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'Overnight set-up for swearing-in difficult'

Shiv Sunny, New Delhi, Dec 24, 2013, DHNS: 3:33 IST
Yellow and white tents being erected at Ramlila Ground on Tuesday might give outsiders an impression of full-preparedness for the swearing-in ceremony of Arvind Kejriwal and his team of ministers, likely to be held on Thursday. But the makeshift shelters could actually make preparations very difficult, said police officers who have been surveying the ground.

Concrete arrangements for the programme can begin only after the tents — erected for a function by Arya Samaj — are removed around 5 pm on Wednesday. “It is going to be a very difficult, may be not impossible, task to make overnight arrangements if the Aam Aadmi Party decides to have the function around 10 am,” said a senior officer.

He said the more they delay in the day, the easier it would make their task. Police are also unable to proceed with any plan as the date for the oath-taking ceremony is yet to be confirmed.

Ramlila Ground is capable of holding between 35,000 and 50,000 people, but police are preparing for a crowd turnover of over a lakh, that might as well spill on to the streets. But the fact that the security wing of Delhi Police will cover the stage where Kejriwal will take the oath, has brought much relief to local police.

“Our duty will be to handle the crowd and facilitate a safe entry and exit for them. One worry is that Kejriwal could get emotional and wade into the crowd, but that comes under the purview of the CM’s security,” said the officer. Preparations, when they actually begin, will be on the same or a greater scale as it was during Anna Hazare’s fast, the officer added.

Police also said the need to install LED screens outside the ground might arise if top officials estimate that all visitors might not be accommodated at the ground. Barricades will be erected for crowd control and there will be no tents for the gathering.

Meanwhile, the municipal corporation which owns the land has begun beautifying the ground for the function. “We are currently levelling the uneven parts of the ground by dumping mud. We have to dress even the farthest parts of the ground. Even temporary toilets for women will be installed by Wednesday evening,” said Bhagwat Singh, an MCD supervisor there.

However, just like Delhi Police, even the MCD is waiting for the function scheduled for Wednesday, to end before they can begin specific work. Meanwhile, the park continued to be occupied in some parts by homeless people and in some others by street children and schoolboys, most of who were oblivious to the big event scheduled there.

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