“From the infrastructure point of view, Kumbh (Mela) was a great challenge. In a span of just 11 months, the city of Prayagraj has got 264 new streets, there are 10 new flyovers, several roads have been rebuilt,” said Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh while addressing the audience at the IE Round Table Conference here on Tuesday.
Singh, who was the chief guest at the event held at Taj Mahal Lucknow with the theme of the upcoming Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, said, “In the wake of Kumbh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took a brave call by allowing a massive demolition drive in the city of Prayagraj wherein encroached land was reclaimed. The drive saw zero political interference and the citizens also cooperated.”
About improving the connectivity to Prayagraj, Singh said, “By the time Kumbh starts on January 15, the city will be connected to 13 places through air route. We also looked at ways to destress the railway network. In order to manage the passenger traffic due to special trains being introduced for the Kumbh, we have diverted several trains to three other stations to avert any mishap.”
Singh, who was nominated as minister in-charge during the visit of 70 Heads of Missions to Prayagraj on December 15 ahead of the Kumbh, said, “It was a beautiful moment to see 70 flags, along with the Indian flag, urfurled at the Kumbh site.”
During his address, Singh emphasised how their government is focusing on cleanliness during the mega event, where 15 crore visitors are expected. “We have built 1.22 lakh toilets for the Kumbh, which has been registered by the Guinness World Records as the biggest sanitation drive in the world.”
After his address, a collector’s edition magazine, titled Prayagraj Kumbh 2019, was launched at the event. The magazine enlists various aspects of the mega event, which is being organised on an unprecedented scale by the state government after Kumbh Mela’s inclusion in UNESCO’s list for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It also explores why the event is held at Triveni Sangam, sects that participate in the Kumbh and its spiritual significance.
The launch was marked by a panel discussion on “How to plan for the largest human gathering on earth”. The panelists included Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Tourism, UP; photographer Prashant Panjiar; food consultant and writer Sangeeta Khanna; and Shoba Mohan, founder, RARE India. During the hour-long discussion, moderated by The Indian Express Principal Correspondent Pooja Pillai, each of the speakers brought in their area of expertise while speaking about the massive arrangements for the event.
When asked by a co-panelist about waste management, Awasthi said, “We have made efforts to ban all kinds of plastic in the Mela area, even though it may be extremely difficult to achieve.” He admitted that waste segregation may not be possible, but all efforts were being made towards waste management — “garbage will be processed, 20,000 dustbins will be placed at the Mela area, there are 1.22 lakh toilets”.