Ganesh Visarjan (Immersion of Lord Ganesh Idol) takes place at many places in Mumbai. But the biggest site, where thousands of Ganesh Idols proceed for, is Girgaon Chowpatty (Beach), which is managed by the MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, also known as Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), which is the governing civic body of Mumbai city.
On the day of Visarjan, there are thousands and thousands of visitors coming to the beach. Right from pandaals, tourists, localities, celebrities, politicians, media, and volunteers. To make things organized, the authorities deploy multiple forces like police, traffic police, fire brigades, home guards, rapid action forces and other armed forces like SRP and SRPF. Along with them, Radio Hams are invited to provide the 2nd line of communication in this event.
A control station is erected at a height, wherein Hams can get a good overview of the beach. There are situations wherein people fight, consume alcohol, medical emergencies & drowning. In such circumstances, nobody dials 100 or 101 for police, fire, and ambulance department. Even if they try to do so, the mobile towers are jammed, and all slots are taken by the massive crowd present there.
For such situations, Hams at Ganesh Visarjan would patrol around in the crowd with their handy, and report back to the control about it. The control would then pass on the message to the police control which is stationed nearby, and they would send in the constables to handle the situation. Many times, Ham Control Station is placed close to the Police control, if not, then one of our ham with a handy is placed in their control room.
Similarly, Hams at Ganesh Visarjan pass on information to Fire control, and ambulance control in case of emergencies, which is also stationed close by. Hams at Ganesh Visarjan also lookout for lost children, lost items and bring them back to the police control. The best part is the children are served juice and biscuits till their parents come looking for and find them. Some would cry, and some would be more than happy to consume it all. Hams have also provided communication support for events like Marathon Race in Mumbai.
But things have changed over the last couple of years. NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) has taken a front seat, and they have been deployed heavily at these places to handle situations. But again, they cannot replace hams, the authorities somehow are failing to understand the power and outreach of the hams. What I have experienced is, hams have better equipment than some of the forces. Of course, we do not have a network of repeaters pumping 100 watts like them. But yes, we are good at what we have.