VISAKHAPATNAM: The excitement is palpable as the City of Destiny gears up to host the prestigious International Fleet Review 2016 (IFR-16) commencing on Thursday. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will lay the wreath at Victory At Sea war memorial on the RK Beach road and pay homage to the martyrs, marking the commencement of the international event.
In all, 52 countries have confirmed their participation and the foreign ships have started arriving in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. More than 30 service chiefs, including the naval chiefs of 10 nations, are expected to attend the event. Nearly 90 ships, including Indian Navy submarines as well as 25 foreign ships and 60 aircraft, have been readied for participating in the Fleet Review. This is the second IFR since 2001 in Mumbai and the first IFR on the Eastern seaboard of India.
Besides naval ships review by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 6, a maritime exhibition, an international city parade, a maritime conference, an operational demonstration, and a book release function celebrating the maritime heritage of India are also planned. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the guest for the international city parade and operational demonstration on February 7.
Going by the IFR’s theme ‘United Through Nations’, which intends to build bridges of friendship with the maritime nations, the local authorities are turning no stone unturned to impress the visiting guests. While all the foreign naval personnel will be stationed onboard their respective ships, the top delegates have been accommodated in various star hotels of the city. A fleet of luxury cars has been arranged for their travel in the city, while nearly 1,000 boats have been hired to ferry the naval staff from their ships to the shore and vice versa.
All major roads leading to the Beach road as well as the apartments on the Beach road have been illuminated with colourful LED lights giving a stiff competition to the brightly-lit ships moving in the sea. “We made elaborate arrangements for the IFR, particularly the City Parade on February 7. While we expect more than 1.4 lakh visitors with passes issued by the district administration, a holding area has been created to accommodate 1.86 lakh people. Around 25 screens will telecast the event live for general public,” district collector N Yuvaraj said.
As many as 25 large LED screens will be set up at major junctions and other areas in the city, to enable the public to view the IFR event. About 10 enclosures, in addition to the existing 75 enclosures, are being erected at the venue, anticipating more crowds.
The city wore a new look with a majority of the beautification works completed. With more than 10,000 police personnel on the roads, the traffic was smooth even as people thronged the Beach road in a large number to witness the rehearsal of the City Parade.