Hyderabad:- A mammoth Ganesh procession was underway in Hyderabad on Friday amid tight security arrangements.
Hundreds of idols were taken out in processions to Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city and dozens of other lakes in and around the city.
The main procession started from Balapur on the southern fringes of the city. It will cover a distance of about 20 km passing through the old city and other parts of the city to reach Hussain Sagar, where authorities have made elaborate arrangements for immersion.
Several tributary processions will join the main procession, claimed to be the biggest gathering for immersion after Mumbai.
As the day is coinciding with Friday prayers, police have made additional security arrangements, especially in the communally sensitive old city.
Policemen and personnel of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed near the historic Mecca Masjid and Charminar as the main procession passed through the area.
Muslim religious leaders have appealed to the people to offer Friday prayers in the mosques near their homes instead of coming to Mecca Masjid or other mosques.
Tight security arrangements have also been made in view of the recent disturbances witnessed over an offensive video posted by BJP MLA Raja Singh.
As many as 35,000 policemen have been deployed in the limits of three police commissionerates — Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner C.V. Anand said in addition to the city police, personnel have been drawn from various districts.
He along with other top officials was closely monitoring the movement of the main procession and the tributary processions from the recently inaugurated integrated police command and control centre through the exhaustive network of CCTV cameras.
Director General of Police Mahendra Reddy was also monitoring the procession in Hyderabad and in other parts of the state from state police headquarters. The monitoring is being done through 10 lakh CCTV cameras across the state.
In addition to the CCTV network, 739 cameras have been deployed along the main procession route in Hyderabad. Ten drones, four camera mounted vehicles and two mobile command control centres form part of the massive monitoring system.
Multiple Quick Response Teams, dog squads, and anti-chain snatching teams, and SHE Teams have also been deployed.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has made elaborate arrangements for smooth immersion
Over 40,000 idols will be immersed in Hussain Sagar and more than 50 other lakes and artificial ponds in and around the city.
Officials said as many as 9,523 idols, that are over 3 feet tall, will be immersed on Friday. The process may continue the next day.
Khairatabad Ganesh, the tallest idol in the city at 50 feet, was also heading towards Hussain Sagar lake. Authorities have made special arrangements with heavy carnes for the transport and immersion of the idol, which has been made of clay this year.
The mammoth procession has brought the entire city to a halt. Police have imposed traffic restrictions. Liquor shops and bars will remain closed in the limits of all three police commissionerates.
Additional security measures have also been put in place due to row over immersion in Hussain Sagar lake in view of courts prohibiting immersion of Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols.
The government of Telangana has clarified that only idols made of clay will be allowed to be immersed in Hussain Sagar per the orders of the High Court.
POP idols can be immersed in 31 lakes and 74 baby ponds across the city, it said.
The GHMC has deployed 280 cranes and 130 mobile cranes for immersion. More than 10,000 sanitation workers have been engaged to help with the immersion process.
The High Court, in its order dated July 21 has maintained that immersion of POP idols in Hussain Sagar is prohibited, starting this year.
During the last couple of days, Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi (BGUS) organised protests demanding the government to allow immersion of idols without restrictions.
In view of the immersion procession, the state government has declared a holiday for all government schools and educational institutions in three districts — Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medchal Malkajgiri.