Allahabad: At the world's biggest religious congregation, the Maha Kumbh Mela, it's not just crowd management that keeps the authorities on their toes. Tons of trash left behind by the crores of pilgrims visiting Allahabad for the mela pose a health hazard, and cleaning up the venue is a major challenge for mela administrators.
On Mauni Amavasya last week, an auspicious day when lakhs of people took a holy dip, up to seven hundred tons of waste piled up on the ghaats or riverbanks. It took 7,000 sweepers and janitors to clean up the mess.
Anand Singh, one of 400 doctors who supervise the clean-up drive every single day, told NDTV, "We get the trash picked up from everywhere; it is loaded in trucks and driven away to a waste plant.
Suresh Dwivedi, another doctor, said, "We have arranged for 40,000 make-shift toilets in the area to ensure clean sanitation Every morning, our janitors clean up the ghaats before people come to take a dip."
At the waste management plant, 15 kilometers away, bio-degradable and non-degradable trash are separated and then recycled into manure and moulded plastic.
Preeti Galne, a manager at the waste management firm, said, "We make use of everything. We make manure, plastic, interlocking tiles from the trash. Whatever is of no use is sent to a landfill."
But despite these massive clean-up efforts, heaps of waste still lies piled up and the gutters overflow with filth and it will be weeks before the city can be fully cleaned up.