Independence Day 2020: Red Fort celebrations to be muted due to Covid-19

14 August, 2020 | newsx bureau

Flag Hoisting at Red Fort National

The Independence Day celebrations in Delhi this year will be relatively muted, due to security concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, there have also been extensive security setu...

The Independence Day function at Red Fort this year will be relatively muted in terms of participation of people in view of the situation created by COVID-19. Compared to the past, about 20 per cent VVIPs or other participants will be able to witness Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation from ramparts of the historic fort. The arrangements have been made keeping in view social distancing norms.
Sources said school children will not be there and National Cadet Corps would be present.

In previous years, nearly 900 VVIPs used to be accommodated on either side of the main podium. This number will be down to about 130 this year, officials said.Around 4,000 personnel will be on security duty for the function. Over 1,500 “coronavirus winners” who recovered from the disease, will attend the function in a symbol of the citizens’ determination to fight the pandemic and emerge winners.

Police officials said that 350 Delhi police personnel, who will be part of the guard of honour at the Red Fort on August 15 have been quarantined at a police colony in Delhi Cantonment. The Home Ministry, in its advisory, has called upon states to avoid congregation of people and use of technology for the telecast of celebrations.

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The ministry said it is imperative to follow certain preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, sanitization and protecting vulnerable persons.

As per notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued for Delhi International Airport (IGI) for chartered (non-scheduled) flights, no transit flight will be allowed to land between 6:00 am-10:00 am and 4:00 pm-7:00 pm on Independence Day, August 15. Scheduled flights will operate as per the schedule. Also, no impact would be on Indian Air Force (IAF), Border Security Force (BSF), army helicopter and the state-owned aircraft/helicopter can fly with Governor/Chief Minister of the state.

Delhi Police said on Thursday that it has made multi-layered security arrangements for Independence Day. It said that necessary coordination has been made with other agencies like National Security Guard (NSG), Special Protection Group (SPG) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). “All the agencies will work in close coordination with each other to cater to all kinds of threat inputs. SWAT teams and Parakram vans have been strategically stationed,” Delhi police said.

Deployment of security personnel is being made both in plainclothes and uniform.Facial recognition system has also been set up at vantage points for identification of suspects.The police said that all the necessary guidelines in view of the COVID-19 pandemic will be enforced. There will be elaborate traffic arrangements with the optimal deployment of staff and signages for public convenience, it said.

Apart from securing the main venue at Red Fort, adequate security arrangements for at Home function at Rashtrapati Bhawan have also been made and city-wide alert is being exercised by all district DCPs.

Delhi Traffic Police had said earlier this week that that vehicles without parking or access levels will not be allowed near the Red Fort area and cars will not be allowed on eight roads between 4 am-10 am on August 13 and 15 in view of Independence Day.

Ministry of Defence is organising Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony on Saturday at Red Fort maintaining the balance between the sanctity and dignity of the National function while factoring in precautions related to the COVID-19 scenario.

In order to facilitate seamless movement with the least chances of any crowding, seating enclosures and walkways are laid with wooden flooring and carpeting. Additional Door frame metal detectors, with adequately spaced markings, have been provided to avoid queuing and to ensure smooth passage for all the invitees. Most of the parking areas have been brick-lined and paved in order to ensure smooth entry and exit of vehicles to the maximum feasible extent.

The members of the Guard of Honour have been under quarantine to bring in safety. The guiding principle for seating has been “Do Gaz kiDoori” (or 6 feet between any two guests seated during the event.

The participation is only through invitation and members who do not have formal invites are requested to refrain from coming to the venue. About 4000 plus invites have been issued to officials, diplomats, members of public, media etc.

With an eye on safety, NCC cadets have been invited to witness the event (instead of young school children) and they will be seated at Gyanpath.

In order to sensitize the invitees towards COVID related safety measures, specific Advisory for following the COVID related guidelines has been issued along with each invitation card. A request card for the invitee to exhibit restraint and patience during dispersal after the conclusion of the function would be placed on each seat in this regard. The announcement in this connection will be made from the commentary booth from time to time.
The Traffic Police advisory will also contain a note on the matter. An orderly dispersal plan has been put in place for implementation through the controlling officials in various enclosures. In this regard, the cooperation of all invitees will be earnestly and consistently requested.

The ceremonial drills have also factored due to social distancing norms as well as other precautionary measures.

Adequate medical booths at four locations, 1 near the Rampart, 1 in Madhavdas Park and 2 in 15 August Park have been set up to cater to any attendee who is detected having any symptoms related to COVID-19 during entry. Ambulances would also be stationed at these four locations.

Thermal screening at all entry points for the invitees has been planned. Thorough sanitization of the premises inside and outside the Red Fort is being carried out on a regular basis.

All invitees have been requested to wear masks. In addition, an adequate number of suitable masks are being kept handy for distribution at various points of venue. Similarly, the availability of hand sanitizers at pre-defined locations has been done. The display boards are placed discreetly to attract the attention of invitees.

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