Incident-free Baliyatra ends tomorrow

Cuttack: As the eight-day Baliyatra festival here is going to end tomorrow, the city police are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that the festival will remain peaceful.

“Managing the heavy rush each day, particularly during evening hours is a herculean task. Thankfully, the festival has been peaceful so far without any major untoward incident,” said a senior police officer of the city.

At least 40 platoons (around 1200 personnel) of the force are overseeing the law and order in the fare grounds and manning the traffic on the roads leading to the fare. Besides having nine police aid posts in both the grounds, the police are keeping a close watch on the visitors through at least 16 CCTV cameras installed at strategic locations.

On an average four lakh people are visiting the fare every day and on Sunday, the Baliyatra witnessed an estimated seven lakh visitors, police said.

“We are expecting”similar footfalls on last two days of the festival,” the police officer said.

Till Monday, all the 300-odd stalls set up by Odisha Rural Marketing Society (Ormas) and selling ethnic household materials have done business worth nearly Rs five crore, Ormas CEO Bipin Rout said.

“We expect an equal business turnover in last three days of the festival and the sale-proceeds in Baliyatra is likely to cross Rs 10 crore,” he said.

Nearly 300 food stalls set up in the fare also have made brisk business.

Health officials of the civic body have destroyed five quintals of stale food in all these days and the revellers are constantly being warned to stay away from stale foods, health department officials said.

The civic body is also finding it difficult to keep the fare grounds garbage-free as over ten tonnes of garbage are generated every day.

“We are sweeping and lifting the garbage twice a day and over 120 sweepers are engaged in this exercise,” said a civic body health officer.