On the occasion of Shivaratri celebrations, officials at Kanaka Durga temple and Vijayawada City police have stepped up security measures for the smooth management of the festival. Keeping in view the heavy rush of devotees from both states, temple authorities have also made special arrangements.
Speaking to TNM Koteshwaramma, Executive Officer of Kanaka Durga temple said, "We expect that more than 1.5 lakhs devotees would take a holy dip in the river and offer special prayers." She further added, "In view of the rush, we have deployed temple staff across the ghats and local police will also monitor the situation".
Temple authorities said there would be Shiva Abhishekam and Shiva Kalyanam on Monday from 9pm to 12 and 12.30 am - 3.00am on Tuesday respectively. Officials also have made arrangements to screen the Shiva Kalyanam at the Kanaka Durga temple.
Vijayawada City Traffic police has also issued traffic guidelines in view of the heavy rush of devotees in the city. According a release from the city police as many as 7 routes will have restrictions till 12 noon on Tuesday.
When TNM visited the Durga ghat, Punnami ghat and other ghats near the Krishna river banks, police had deployed required force to oversee the security and crowd control. While devotees take a holy dip in the river, many also take boats to Bhavani Island as part of the festivities.
Managements of boating services on Durga ghat, Punnami ghat were asked to employ safety measures during these ferry rides. Several rescue teams from the Disaster Response Force were kept on standby in view of past incidents.
State Disaster Response Force Inspector Mallikarjun Rao has overseen the security measures at Punnami ghat, Durga ghat along with other officials. He said, "All the boat service managements were asked to follow the guidelines strictly. At each boating point our staff will check and make sure every boat moves with a proper life jacket on each passenger."
Several passengers at Punnami ghat told TNM that boat service staff are providing life jackets.
He further added, "Strict action will be taken against managements who are found to be flouting rules. We have deployed rescue teams wherever required with fully equipped rescue boats, additional forces are also ready if required".
In November 2017, 21 tourists were killed after an overloaded boat capsized near Vijayawada. The tourists were going from Bhavani Island to Pavitra Sangamam, the point where the Krishna and Godavari rivers meet, to witness the â€˜Maha haarathiâ€™ ritual on the last Sunday of the auspicious month of â€˜Karthikaâ€™.