All set for Kumbh, biggest gathering on earth
With less than ten days left for Kumbh -- the largest congregation of people on the planet -- to begin Jan 14 on Makar Sankranti in the Sangam city of Allahabad, the state administration has been working against time.
There are several projects crucial to the success of the event, hyped by the ten-month-old Akhilesh Yadav government as an occasion to showcase Uttar Pradesh to a global audience.
Officials admit that this time, the event is not just for those teeming millions who visit the Kumbh between Jan 14 and March 10. This time, the Kumbh will serve to bolster the brand image of Uttar Pradesh and its young chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav.
The area of the 'mela' premises has been increased manifold this year; it now encompasses 193.5 hectares.
Other than the 'pucca' bridges and flyovers that have been built in Allahabad, 18 pontoon bridges have been constructed to ease the flow of people converging at the Sangam area, Arail and Jhoosi.
The Kumbh area would function as an independent district area and 12,000 police constables, 107 traffic inspectors, 12 additional Superintendents of Police (SPs), 16 assistant SPs and 50 deputy SPs will lead the security network. There will also be central police forces watching every inch of the Kumbh area.
85 CCTVs are being installed in every vantage position to keep an eye on subversive elements, say police officials.
With the state government expecting crowds to swell many times over the last Kumbh of 2001, which saw 1.1 crore people converge here on Makar Sankranti (Jan 14) and 3.5 crore on Mauni Amavasya (Feb 10), the government is making arrangements not only to take in the voluminous crowds but also ensure smooth passage of all bathing days, says director general of police (DGP) A.C. Sharma.
This time, the Kumbh is also longer by 11 days, and people will congregate at the site for 55 days. The number of parking areas has been increased to 99 from 44 in the Ardh Kumbh of 2007.
For the first time, special emphasis is being laid on proper signage. Boards will come up at over 30 places. Nearly 156.2 km of temporary roads have been laid by the public works department. The Jal Nigam has made provision for supply of 80,000 kilolitres of potable water, and laid 550 km of temporary pipelines.
With inclement weather and other concerns also to be taken into account this year, the state government has made efforts to provide uninterrupted power to the mela site and 73 sub-stations have been built. There are 22,000 temporary street lights in the mela area.
Provision of proper health and hygiene facilities has also been something that the state government has been preparing for.
There are 14 allopathic medical centers, a 370-bed hospital, 35,000 toilets for special cottages, 340 ten-seater Sulabh toilets and 1,000 non-conventional toilets in the Kumbh area; there are 7,500 toilets that conform to the design developed by the Planning and Research Action Institute, Lucknow.
The UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) has built five temporary bus stations, and will ply 6008 additional buses, augmenting the fleet of 892 buses that ply to the Kumbh area in the normal course.
The government expects approximately 90,000 passengers to ply to and from the Kumbh each day of the 55-day event.
Indian Railways will operate 750 special trains to ferry devotees.
To ensure that the bathing passes peacefully and there is no pile-up on holy bathing days, the urban development minister Mohd Azam Khan is overseeing arrangements ahead of the Kumbh.
For the first time, the irrigation department has constructed three 'pucca' ghats at Boat Club, Arail and Bargad Ghat.
The Triveni Darshan area has undergone a facelift, and the Alopi flyover which is a major traffic bottleneck has been widened.
Polythene and plastic has been banned in the mela area as well as the city, to keep the city clean.
Water in the Ganga would flow clean, say officials who add that four sewage treatment plants will be operational. Work on these was delayed due to prolonged monsoon showers, but construction will be completed before Jan 14.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has taken the Kumbh as a test of his own competence, and he will leave no stone unturned to ensure its smooth conduct.