Over nine lakh pilgrims took a holy dip at the Gangasagar today on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti and offered prayers at Kapil Muni Ashram amidst tight security that is in place in view of the Gangasagar Mela, officials said. Pilgrims started taking a holy dip from 2:52 AM onwards and the auspicious time for the dip will be over after 2:15 AM tomorrow. One elderly pilgrim became ill and efforts were on to transfer him to Kolkata by a helicopter. The state and South 24 Parganas district administration have taken a number of measures to avoid any untoward incident and deployed 9,000 policemen and volunteers to provide assistance to the pilgrims, officials said. Altogether 165 CCTVs were also installed at various places to keep a close watch, they said. A drone and 20 vessels including several from the Coast Guard were being used for surveillance. The theme of Gangasagar Mela being 'Green and Clean' this year, the administration made arrangements for 10,000 toilets so that people could use it. Gyandas Mohanto of Hanumangarhi Trust, which runs the Kapil Muni Ashram in Gangasagar, handed over the charge to Sanjay Das here. Mohanto said that Sanjay Das will look after the day-to-day activities at the fair at Gangasagar nest year. He also demanded that this fair should get the status of a national fair.
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