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Israeli balloon camera to be used for rath yatra surveillance


For the first time, the city police will use an Israeli helium balloon with high resolution camera to keep a vigil during the annual Lord Jagannath rath yatra procession here on July 14, a senior official said today.

Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, J K Bhatt, said that a helium balloon with a high resolution camera can keep an eye on the area of around five kms, which is “much better” than camera-mounted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones.

“We had used camera-mounted drones in the past during the rath yatras for air surveillance. This time, we have decided to use an Israeli helium balloon having a camera attached to it. From a height of 300 meters in the sky, this balloon camera would cover an area of five kms,” Bhatt told reporters.

He said the camera attached to the balloon will be very high definition and will also have night vision facility.

“The live visuals captured by this powerful camera will be sent to the central control room. We can control the camera as well as balloon height from the ground. This balloon will be deployed at one location on the route and will be shifted to another place if required,” Bhatt added.

On the overall security arrangements for the rath yatra, Bhatt said around 20,200 personnel of police, Home Guards, State Reserve Police (SRP) and armed men of para-military forces will be deployed at strategic locations along the 18-km long route of the rath yatra, which passes through some communally-sensitive areas.

These personnel include city Commissioner of Police, A K Singh, three Special CPs, five officers of Inspector General or Deputy IG ranks, 31 Superintendent of Police (SPs), 88 Assistant Commissioners of Police, 253 inspectors, 819 sub inspectors and around 14,200 constables.

Bhatt added that 22 companies of the SRP, 25 companies of para military and central armed forces, one Chetak Commando team, 5,400 home guards, 10 Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads (BDDS) and 30 Quick Response Teams will be deployed at different locations to assist police during the rath yatra.

“To keep a watch on every movement, city police have installed 150 CCTV cameras at various points along the rath yatra route,” he said.

According to Bhatt, the rath yatra procession would comprise 18 decorated elephants, 101 trucks with tableaux, 30 religious congregations, 18 singing troupes and three chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balram and sister Subhadra.

The chariot will commence its journey from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area of the old city at around 7 am on July 14 and would come back to the temple at around 8.30 pm after covering a journey of around 18 kms.

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