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Kumbh: It's Not Just a Mela — In Episode 1, a look at the makeshift city being constructed at Prayagraj

At the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, a city, meant for more than five-and-a-half times the population of Australia, is being meticulously created to celebrate cosmic consciousness in the practices of Hinduism. A whooping 12 crore pilgrims are expected to take holy dips during the world’s biggest spiritual gathering at Prayagraj over the next 55 days. A makeshift city, spread over 3,200 hectares and situated on the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, is under construction. The Kumbh promises world-class infrastructure.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, officers, engineers and police personnel are working at a frenetic speed. Infrastructure is the key in Kumbh. A 300-kilometre long road and 22 pontoon bridges are in the works. Over 500 buses are ready to ferry pilgrims from across the world. Kumbh will give the newly-christened Prayagraj a major facelift, with over 110 new roads, 84 parking lots and a 1,000-kilometre long power supply line.

Over 32 hospitals, including one 100-bed central hospital, air and river ambulances are at hand for seers and pilgrims. The central hospital is up and running, and so far, over 10,000 patients have received treatment. Prior to the shahi snan on 15 January, more than 2,000 doctors, including two dozen dental surgeons and para-medical staff, will be around to deal with any potential accidents.

Over 122,000 makeshift toilets are being built, as sanitation and hygiene are key challenges for the organisers. Twenty thousand dustbins will keep the Kumbh litter-free, and 15,000 sanitation workers and 120 tippers have been deployed for waste disposal.

The sewage system — a 150-kilometre long high-density polyethylene pipe-line, has been laid along with drains, measuring up to 850 kilometres. The drainage matrix is about the same distance between Delhi and Varanasi. 32 sewage points open into the Ganga at Prayagraj, but a majority have been closed. Another 800-kilometre long pipe will ensure uninterrupted supply of drinking water to pilgrims across the tent city.

About 60 million units of electricity, worth Rs 25 crore, will be required to light up the Kumbh. Two alternate sources via 113 sub-stations will ensure constant power supply at an estimated cost of Rs 226 crore.

In case of emergency, 64 generators will crackle to life within three seconds. Fire safety measures have been put in place, such as flex in poles for makeshift bathrooms. There is a blanket ban on the unauthorised use of heaters.

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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2019 18:11:02 IST