Millions of fire—crackers, ringing of bells, hooting of ships’ sirens and loud cheers by Mumbaikars — from the slums of Dharavi to the highrises in the posh areas of the city — greeted the New Year 2010 on a dark, slightly chilly eclipse—struck night of Dec 31st here.
The celebrations had started well in advance with millions of Mumbaikars hurrying home and then proceeding to parties, outings or gatherings to celebrate the New Year, beating away the recession blues.
Mumbai Police had deployed over 40,000 personnel in the field to keep an eye on each and every corner of the city, while there were roadblockades, CCTVs at major junctions and strict security at mega events in five star hotels, public grounds and the dozen—odd beach fronts dotting the city.
The traffic police also made special arrangements to ensure that the night went off without traffic snarls. There were also special measures to check drunken driving at most important locations in the city to make the New Year event safe and accident—free.
The additional precautions were necessitated by the state government’s decision to permit public celebrations in hotels, restaurants, pubs, clubs and other places to remain officially open till 3 a.m., attracting more crowds than in previous years when celebrations stopped at 1 a.m.
The Western Railway and Central Railway operated special services enabling revellers to move around the city almost all night till the early hours of Jan 1. Even the city’s public transport undertaking, the BEST, ran special services on key routes to enable people to move around freely.
A majority of the hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs were booked houseful in advance and people started trooping in from 7 p.m. onwards.
A few parties were also being held offshore in boats and yachts off Gateway of India with special arrangements to serve food and liquor. Many of those vessels would permit the party—goers to view the first sunrise of the New Year at the morrow on the calm and cold waters of the Arabian Sea.