The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has beefed up measures to ensure a safe pilgrimage to Ganga Sagar for thousands of people that are expected to visit the Sagar island from 10th to 16th January 2017. The convergence of upto four lakh pilgrims on the day of Makar Sankranti for taking the holy dip in the confluence of river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal makes this annual ritual a challenge of gigantic proportions for the ICG. But the ICG has always lived upto its motto of ‘Vayam Rakshamah’, which when translated from Sanskrit, means ‘We Protect’.
This time too, ICG has deployed a host of assets to ensure safety of pilgrims. Hovercraft based at Haldia are tasked to carry out ‘Search and Rescue’ (SAR) operations as well as to provide security cover along the riverine route. “The flexibility provided by these amphibious machines makes them an ideal equipment for use in a gamut of operations like surveillance, search and rescue, life saving, boarding ops, providing speedy transit to a survivor etc“, said DIG Warsi, the Commander of ICG base at Haldia.
A life saving team comprising of divers and medical personnel is also placed at nearby location so that time is not wasted in travel. To thwart threats emanating from sea fast patrol vessels and interceptor boats are maintaining vigil. These efforts are supplemented by an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) with an integral helicopter on board that has been positioned off Sagar island for continuous surveillance. Dornier Do-228 aircraft have also been deployed to provide long range aerial surveillance and SAR cover for this festival.
The Indian Coast Guard has always been instrumental in providing seaward security cover during Ganga Sagar mela and has also successfully rendered humanitarian assistance over decades as a part of its responsibility.