Government starts planning for Haridwar Kumbh Mela

National Mission for Clean Ganga discusses funds needed by Uttarakhand for providing community toilets and urinals

April 29, 2020 04:44 am | Updated 04:44 am IST - NEW DELHI

Mega gathering: Maha Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years, and 10 million had congregated in Haridwar in 2010.

Mega gathering: Maha Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years, and 10 million had congregated in Haridwar in 2010.

Crowds, or even the prospect of one, may be anathema everywhere, but the government has begun planning for the Maha Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, in January 2021. The gathering has a long history and draws large crowds from the world over, who come to take a ritualistic dip in the Ganga.

An April 16 meeting, organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the Water Ministry body overseeing the clean up of the river, discussed funds that would be needed by the Uttarakhand government for providing community toilets and urinals for the attendees.

Also read: No improvement in Ganga water quality during lockdown

The Maha Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years, and the last time the event was held in 2010, about 10 million had reportedly congregated in the city.

For organising the event, the State has sought ₹85 crore from the NMCG for creating 16,075 community toilets (these are made of fibre and portable) and 20,000 community urinals. However the Executive Committee of the NMCG deferred a decision on the grounds that several other components of the proposal — making provisions for dustbins and solid waste management — were not yet included and a decision on the project would be taken at the next meeting, according to a record of the minutes of the meeting. Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director-General, NMCG, did not respond to a request for comment.

The meeting was, as is the norm in the government now, convened via video-conference and had officials from the NMCG, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand and is held every month to decide on funding for projects to clean the Ganga as well as its tributaries.

A participant at the meeting told The Hindu that there was no discussion with Uttarakhand on whether it would be safe to organise the Kumbh Mela, given that the world is yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the global case count continues to increase. “There was no discussion on whether the organisation of the Kumbh would be impacted by COVID-19. But there’s a lot of time left and the situation could change. If there’s still as much of a risk as there is now, I’m sure measures will be taken,” the person said. However preparing logistics in advance was par for the course, given the size of the event. A similar Kumbh was organised in Prayagraj in 2019.

Because of its being a novel coronavirus , there’s no clarity on whether the virus will continue to be as contagious in winter. The first reports of the virus originated in China in late November.

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