Plastic free Kumbha Mela

According to BBC, Kumbha Mela is the world’s largest gathering program. Hence it also results where tons of plastic waste accumulates every time. Guided by Swami Samvidanand , took up the initiative to eradicate the plastic items from the Kumbha Mela. To start with this initiative major awareness programs were conducted from August 2012 and the proposal was to distribute one million paper cups and to recover the plastic cups. This was widely accepted by the people and successfully implemented.

The Ganga
Ganga as we know is the 2nd largest in the sub-continent and 5th among prominent rivers of world by discharge. The 2,510 km river originates in the Indian State of Uttarakhand and considered by the Hindus as the most sacred of all the Rivers – Ganga Mata. The river is closely associated with many of our ancient kingdoms, which had their capital on its bank (Pataliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Bahrampur, Kolkata and Son).The water of Ganga is presently used for irrigation and for Industries. The water level goes down considerably during January-March, the time of Kumbh Mela season, when the river bed is clearly visible. When hue and cry is raised, the water level of Ganga is pushed up by releasing water from Narora Dam. Still things get worse during Magh or Kumbh Mela when the pilgrimage peaks with millions of devotees congregate pitching camps on the bank.

Our then Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has decried the performances of States operations and maintenance of sewage treatment plants  as ineffective, this resulted in the discharge of 2,900 million litres of sewage into the Ganga everyday. This is way too far from the capacity of the existing plants, i.e. 1100 million litres. In the 3rd National Ganga River Basin Authority (CGBRA) meeting, Prime Minister called for urgent action to save the sacred river and the main responsibility boils down on to 11 states, where the 40% of the population depends on Ganga. 

This resulted in the Clean Ganga Project, which aimed to render a selected eco-sensitive region in the River Ganga as plastic free zone .Initiated by a mass campaign, involved lot of human resources who toiled with immense perseverance and its expenditure was also quite high. The Clean Ganga Project, as we call it, aimed to render a selected eco-sensitive region in the River Ganga as plastic free zone by initiating a massive campaign involving lot of hard work, human resources, perseverance and expenditure.

Trust has identified the Kumbia Mela Zone in the Triveni Sangam, (the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad) as the theatre of our Grand Action Plan. This is because the Plastic waste produced during the Kumbha Mela period (January-March) is so huge, defying any length of explanation. Countless number of Pilgrims and akharas throng the city performing rituals and ceremonies as dictated by their faith, On days of Basalt panchami, Makar Sankrati Shivarathri convergence of pilgrims is much more .The devotees take “Dubki” in Ganga simultaneously, all these activities release countless volumes of detergents, and other chemicals into the river. Over the years, these unholy practices made Ganga polluted in Allahabad at various sources.Without an effective preventive system in place,the situation has become worse.

Our project’s main aim was to set up a preventive system in place. The fight against the plastic menace, its usage and littering the water and environment needs to be brought down tremendously. Ably guided by Swami Samvidanand of the Trust, activities were tailored in a bottom-up management pattern, beginning with tapping at the sources. Hundred of Sanyasis and volunteers took part in this clean-up programme as per a predetermined schedule during the Kumbh Mela Season at Allahabad. They worked selflessly to clean the river and its banks.We need to educate the public and devotees that Cleaning Ganga is the most sacred duty of each pilgrim who participate in Kumbh Mela. Ganga and its banks need to be kept clean to invoke the blessings of Ganga Mata. This is why spiritual leaders themselves involved in the cleaning, which may attract others to follow suit.