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Image: An aerial view of the Sagar Island with two hovercraft stationed on the beach. 

Kolkata: THE Coast Guard has deployed a Dornier Do-228 aircraft and a helicopter for aerial surveillance of the Sagar Island in South 24-Parganas where the annual Ganga Sagar Mela pilgrimage will be underway from 10-16 January.

Defence ministry’s chief spokesperson in Kolkata today said that the Dornier and the helicopter are part of a number of assets that the Coast Guard has deployed in and around Sagar Island to ensure the safety and security of the lakhs of pilgrims.

While the Dornier will function independently; the helicopter is integral to an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) that has been positioned off Sagar Island for continuous surveillance.

A Coast Guard hovercraft at Sagar Island.
A Coast Guard hovercraft at Sagar Island.

This apart, hovercraft based at Haldia has been assigned to provide security cover along the riverine route, as well as to carry out search and rescue operations if the need arises.

Coast Guard has also stationed a life-saving team comprising divers and medical personnel nearby Sagar.  To thwart threats emanating from the sea, fast patrol vessels and interceptor boats are maintaining vigil.

Pilgrims to Sagar come from all over the country to take a holy dip, especially in the dawn of Makar Sankranti (14 January), at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Some 4-5 lakhs pilgrims come every year, making it the second largest congregation of people after the Maha Kumbh.