Chennai:Tight security arrangements have been put in place in the city ahead of the Pongal festival. For Kaannum Pongal, a total of 18,000 policemen will be deployed to control the crowd that traditionally converges at all tourist spots in the city.
The four-day festivities began today with Bhogi. Pongal will be celebrated tomorrow followed by Mattu Pongal, the day to pay tribute to cattle, will be observed on Wednesday.
On the last day of the celebrations, Kaanum Pongal will be observed and people will embark on a trip to picnic spots and recreation centres.
Tight vigil would be maintained in all places, including the Marina Beach where thousands of people from various parts of the State are expected to congregate.
According to police, 'barricades would be erected on the sea front to prevent people from entering the sea and policemen on horse back would patrol the seashore. Caution boards would also be put up on the seashore warning people to avoid bathing in the sea.
Rescue teams would also be stationed to help people in the event of being carried away by the tidal waves'.
A team of fishermen, drawn from surrounding areas, would also be kept in readiness as lifeguards to handle any emergency. Police have also erected watch towers, and fitted loudspeakers and public address systems at strategic points to announce and trace the missing children in the push and pull of the crowd.
The entire police force has been mobilised to maintain strict vigil at Thiruvottriyur, Marina Beach, Elliots Beach and Neelangarai as public were expected to throng in large numbers.
The city police would be assisted by the Coast Guard and Navy in security arrangements. Apart from the beach front, Children's Park at Guindy, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur, amusement parks and the All India Industrial Trade Fair at Island
Grounds and shopping malls would be the preferred destinations for the public.
The city police are also geared up to handle the crowd gathering elsewhere. A strict vigil will be maintained to ensure swift action against criminals indulging in chain-snatching, lifting bags and vehicles. Presence of police in large numbers would deter criminal, they add.
Strict action will be initiated against eve-teasers, police said.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation would operate additional bus services to all major places where people were expected to visit. The Southern Railway would also operate additional EMUs to cope with the surge in rush.