Mrunal Manmay Dash

Cuttack: With only 2 days to commence, the preparations for the Bali Yatra in Cuttack have entered the last leg. And this time the district administration is leaving no stone unturned to make Asia's biggest open-air fair even much better.

Around 1500 stalls have been set up by traders on 44 acres of land allotted by the district administration for sale of their merchandise during the 8-day long festival on the banks of Mahanadi.

As per reports, around 1500 bicycles and rickshaws are going to be introduced in this year's Bali Yatra to create awareness among the visitors on the importance of curbing pollution. But this year's biggest attraction will be Patha Utsav which will showcase new kinds of events like cycling, dance, and musical programmes with hosts like Bollywood celebs Daler Mehndi, Sona Mohapatra and KK to make the festival even more colourful.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy taking boat rides in 3 newly built ponds inside the Bali Yatra ground. At least 4 pandals including the Vaishnav Pani pandal have been erected to host cultural programmes.

Commenting on the arrangements, Bhavani Shankar Chayani, Collector of Cuttack said, "Roadside events are being introduced in Bali Yatra this year as a new attraction which will be organised every evening."

In view of the huge footfall during the festival, the district police have also made elaborate arrangements. Security has been tightened with the deployment of 50 platoons of police force. Similarly, CCTV and drone surveillance on the entire upper and lower Bali Yatra ground, watchtowers and deployment of police officers in civil dress will also be in place to enhance security during the festival.

Akhileswar Singh, DCP of Cuttack said, "Apart from security measures, separate arrangements for traffic will be taken so that the festival is observed without any untoward incidents." Sources said the Commissionerate Police is likely to issue detailed traffic regulations and guidelines in view of the festival on Monday.

Appreciating the arrangements, a local trader said, "We are expecting good business this year and the footfall will help us promote our business."