Over eight lakh devotees from all over the country have so far taken the holy dip here on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti on Sunday, officials said.

The devotees, including senior BJP leaders Jaswant Singh and Uma Bharati besides Supreme Court Justice C K Prasad, took the dip at the confluence of river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal during ‘Gangasagar Mela’

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Bharati expressed regret over the increasing level of pollution in the Ganges over the years.

“Now political parties should take the lead in cleaning this very important river of the country,” she said.

As many as 10 watch towers were installed apart from deployment of 6,500 policemen along with coast guards, BSF and Navy personnel to ensure adequate security of the area, they said.

Security forces in the sea were equipped with hovercraft and small aircraft.

About 7,000 volunteers of different NGOs and civil defence personnel were also at work, the officials said, adding four State and one Central minister of Trinamool Congress are camping at the site to monitor arrangements.

Earlier in the day, six devotees were injured while returning after their vehicle overturned in Diamond Harbour area on the southern fringes of the city. They are undergoing treatment at a local hospital, police said.

Yesterday, four pilgrims had died of heart attack and 147 others were taken ill.