Hyderabad: The mammoth Ganesh procession passed off peacefully in Hyderabad while immersion of idols was underway on Thursday amid tight security.
No untoward incident was reported during the procession which began in the morning while the immersion of idols was continuing in Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city and dozens of other lakes and ponds in and around the city.
Despite heavy rains lashing parts of the city in the evening, devotees thronged the lakes for the immersions.
Hundreds of trucks carrying the idols were lined up around Hussain Sagar lake, the hub of festivities and the immersions is likely to continue till Friday morning.
Police have extended traffic restrictions in some parts of the city for the second day.
The main procession, which started from Balapur on the southern fringes of the city, reached Hussain Sagar in the afternoon after covering a distance of about 20 km.
More than 40,000 policemen were deployed in the Telangana capital for immersion including the main procession which passed through communally sensitive old city.
Police top brass kept a tight vigil at historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar to prevent any untoward incident.
Several tributary processions joined the main procession, claimed to be the biggest gathering for immersion after Mumbai.
A total of 20,600 CCTV cameras were installed and five drone teams were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements for the immersion procession.
As the Ganesh immersion coincided with Milad-un-Nabi, police had made elaborate security arrangements, especially in the old city.
In a gesture to promote peace and harmony, Muslim organisations postponed Milad procession to Sunday.
Scenes of communal harmony were witnessed during festivities as Muslim youth distributed food and water packets among devotees near Charminar.
Over 40,000 policemen were deployed in the limits of three police commissionerates – Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda. In addition to the city police, personnel from various districts were drawn. As many as 125 platoons of additional forces, Rapid Action Force (RAF) and paramilitary forces were also kept on standby.
Director General of Police Anjani Kumar, Hyderabad Police Commissioner C. V. Anand and other officials monitored the procession from the recently inaugurated war room at the Integrated Police Command Control Centre.
Home Minister Mohammed Mehmood Ali, Animal Husbandry Minister T. Srinivas Yadav, the DGP made an aerial survey of the procession in a chopper.
Authorities estimate that 70,000 idols will be immersed in Hussain Sagar and other lakes. About four lakh devotees participated in the celebrations.
Yadav said that 47 health camps and 15 hospitals were kept on standby for emergency medical services. As many as 34 lakh drinking water packets were kept ready for devotees at 122 stalls.
A total of 369 cranes, including 244 mobile cranes, were arranged for immersion of bigger idols.
Khairatabad Ganesh, the tallest idol in the city at 63 feet, was immersed in Hussain Sagar around noon.
Authorities made special arrangements with heavy cranes for the transport and immersion of the idol, which was made of clay for the second year in a row.
Additional security measures were in place due to row over orders prohibiting immersion of Plaster of Paris (PoP) idols in Hussain Sagar and other lakes.
For a third consecutive year, immersion of PoP idols was prohibited. The High Court had directed the state government on Monday to ensure that no idols made of PoP are immersed in either Hussain Sagar or any other water bodies in Hyderabad. The authorities were directed to ensure that the idols made of PoP were immersed only in the baby ponds created by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
The municipal authorities created 74 baby ponds to facilitate immersion of PoP idols.
For immersion in Hussain Sagar, authorities deployed 36 cranes. Three boats and 100 swimmers were also kept ready to deal with any eventuality. About 3,000 sanitation workers were deployed.
The mammoth procession brought the entire city to a halt as police had imposed traffic restrictions.
Liquor shops and bars remained closed in the limits of all three police commissionerates.