Over 20,000 policemen and personnel from paramilitary forces were deployed in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, and the adjacent Cyberabad police commissionerate limits, to maintain peace during the annual procession, which marks the culmination of the 10-day Ganesh festival.
Hundreds of idols started reaching Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city for immersion since morning. Thousands of idols were still on their way, post noon, to Hussain Sagar and 23 other lakes in and around the city.
A police official said the immersions would continue till Thursday morning. About 60,000 idols would be immersed, majority of them in Hussain Sagar. Workers of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) were seen removing debris and puja material to prevent pollution of the lake.
Armed policemen were keeping a tight vigil over the mammoth procession, which passes through the communally sensitive old city. The afternoon prayers at the historic Mecca Masjid passed off peacefully.
Thousands of devotees thronged the roads around Charminar, where Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi erected a special platform to welcome idols coming from various parts of the old city and outskirts.
The main procession, which started from Balapur on the outskirts, will pass through Charminar, Moazzam Jahi Market and Basheerbagh before reaching Hussain Sagar. Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma told reporters that efforts were being made to ensure that the main procession crosses the Musi river before sunset.
Small processions from various parts of the twin cities and outskirts join the centralised procession, which covers a distance of 20 km.
Police have installed 800 CCTV and video cameras on the procession route to keep vigil, while 32 bomb disposal squads have been pressed into service.
The mammoth procession, which is attended by about a million people, brings the city to a complete halt. Police imposed traffic restrictions to allow smooth passage of idols.
This year, the police have made extra security arrangements in view of the communal riots in Uttar Pradesh and also the Feb 21 twin bomb blasts in the city.
Special arrangements have been made to carry a 56-foot Ganesh idol to Hussain Sagar from Khairatabad, about a km from the lake. The tallest idol is installed in Khairatabad every year.
GHMC Commissioner Krishna Babu said 59 stationary and 71 mobile cranes were deployed at Hussain Sagar for immersions.
The main procession from Balapur started with the traditional auction of 'laddu'. Former city mayor and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader T. Krishna Reddy bagged the 'laddu' for Rs.9.26 lakh.
--IANS (Posted on 18-09-2013)