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City gearing up for influx of thousands of devotees

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R. Sairam

Stage set for Lord Kallazhagar's grand entry into Vaigai

MADURAI: The stage is set for Lord Kallazhagar's grand entry into the Vaigai on Wednesday as the highlight of the Chithirai brahmotsavam of Sundararaja Perumal Temple at Alagarkoil.

Elaborate arrangements have been made in the city to gear up for the influx of thousands of devotees from all over Madurai and neighbouring districts.

This is the time when the city's infrastructure is put to the cruellest test.

While the demand for water and sanitation facilities goes up with the arrival of people in all forms of transport the roads are put to the maximum use - as thoroughfares and places of rest.

The city turns into a virtual Aegean stable with the litter left by the visitors.

The occasion throws up a challenge for the civic body and the police machinery, which is entrusted with the task of regulating crowd and traffic and preventing anti-socials from having a field day.

"Adequate drinking water tanks, toilet and bathing facilities have been provided for the devotees on both sides of the Vaigai," says Corporation Superintending Engineer, K. Sakthivel.

Lighting arrangement has been made adequately and the existing five permanent toilets along the route taken by the deity have been repaired.

"To the north of the Vaigai, a protective wall has been constructed from the point of Lord Kallazhagar's entry to a distance of one kilometre at a cost of Rs. 80 lakh," Mr. Sakthivel says.

Sanitary works have been taken up at a cost of Rs. 18 lakh.

According to N. Kathiresan, City Health Officer, more than 500 sanitary workers have been temporarily pressed into service for spraying bleaching powder along the roads and for executing other sanitary works.

"Last year, machines were deployed for cleaning the sand along the road flanks. However, the result was not satisfactory and we have done it manually this time," he says.

A trained team of sweepers is working round-the-clock in three shifts of eight hours each.

Fogging is done both in morning and evening to check the mosquito menace.

A team has been deployed solely to keep a tab on the water chlorination process to ensure that it goes off smoothly, says Dr. Kathiresan. Food preparation is also on in full swing.

The entire proceedings of the Chithirai festival have been brought under police surveillance using sophisticated cameras, according to police sources, and monitored from a special control room. Police personnel, both men and women, in plainclothes will be deployed along the route of the deity and at strategic places.

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