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Post Hathras tragedy, Odisha police take help of technology to control Rath Yatra crowd | Bhubaneswar News

Post Hathras tragedy, Odisha police take help of technology to control Rath Yatra crowd

BHUBANESWAR: Alarmed by the death of 121 people in a stampede during a satsang in UP’s Hathras on Tuesday, Odisha police have incorporated technology to ensure effective crowd control during Rath Yatra in Puri. The festival is expected to attract around 10 lakh devotees and several VVIPs, including President Droupadi Murmu, on Sunday.
ADG (law and order) Sanjay Kumar said the police have for the first time procured AI-enabled cameras and drones to manage the massive crowd during the festival.The primary focus is on preventing any stampede-like incidents during the pulling of chariots along the 3-km-long Grand Road, which faces Jagannath Temple.
“We have installed a minimum of 200 AI cameras at various strategic locations, enabling the police to swiftly identify areas where crowds are surging and take immediate evacuation measures,” Kumar told TOI.
He said that three advanced drones equipped with sophisticated cameras, sirens and public address systems will be deployed to monitor the Grand Road between the Jagannath Temple and Gundicha Temple. These drones will provide police with real-time insights into the movement of people and crowd surge, allowing them to make timely decisions and maintain a safe environment for the devotees.
“We will deploy three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF), two companies of CRPF and eight platoons of Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel for effective crowd control in the outer cordon area of the three chariots,” Kumar said.
Police sources said about 50 vulnerable points, including some bottlenecks, have been identified on the Grand Road where a sea of humanity turns up to watch the deities aboard their chariots. Police said their focus will be on the narrow lanes and bylanes connecting the Grand Road.
Alleged crowd mismanagement had triggered stampede-like incidents during Rath Yatra in 2008, 2010 and 2015. While six pilgrims were trampled to death in front of the chariots in 2008, one died in 2010 and two women lost their lives during Nabakalebara Rath Yatra in 2015. A near stampede-like situation broke out last year, leaving eight devotees injured.
“The 3-km Grand Road in Puri cannot accommodate 7 lakh people. Bulk of the crowd usually gather at one place — near the moving chariots — making it difficult for the police to control them. Police would not have faced difficulty had the devotees been standing on both sides of the Grand Road to watch the pulling of chariots. Problem arises when all of them gather near Jagannath Temple and move along with the chariots till Gundicha Temple,” said Santosh Swain, a retired DSP.

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