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Leftover managers

Omar Rashid
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Apart from keeping the Kumbh Mela premises clean, the Mehtars also ensure no food is wasted at the fair

Around 10,000 Mehtars of the Bhangi Scheduled Caste, traditionally restricted to sweeping and manual scavenging, bear the responsibility of keeping clean the vast 4,000-acre premises of the Maha Kumbh Mela.

Even as they live in deplorable conditions — in rag-tents, most of which are adjacent to drains, and with no or minimal source of fuel to keep them warm at night — they exhibit an exceptional case of resource utilisation.

These men, women and children gather all the leftover food from around the mela and let it dry under the sun outside their shabby tents. At the end of the 55-day event, they will pack the food into gunny bags and transport it to their villages, most of which are in the adjoining districts of Pratapgarh, Kausambhi, Banda, Fatehpur and Chitrakoot.

The food will serve as fodder for their animals. Not only does this help to keep the Sangam clean, it also ensures that no food goes to waste at the multi-crore human congregation.

PHOTO: OMAR RASHID

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