What the Kumbh left behind: 100 tonnes waste a day

Unscientific dumping affects agriculture in nearby villagers, leads to infections

By Midhun Vijayan
Published: Friday 30 April 2021

Governments at the Centre and Uttarakhand proceeded with the Kumbh Mela, despite a steady rise in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, for March 11-April 16, 2021. Some estimated that 10 million people would have attended the religious gathering where the highlight is a dip in the Ganga. While that always ran the risk of beign a superspreader, another problem that hasn’t been highlighted is that of the waste that these millions left back.

“Our village has more cases of dengue and fever than I have ever seen in my life,” Mohammed Wazim told Down To Earth. Nothing new for the residents of his village, Sarai, as well as those nearby. The village, once blessed with good harvests, has been used by Haridwar Municipal Corporation in recent years to dump waste unscientifically.

The Kumbh congregation generated 100 tonnes waste every day; 150 tonnes collected from Haridwar. Much of it was dumped by the roadside a few kilometers from the city.

The state government, however, was supposed to sort and process the waste, the National Clean Ganga Mission laid down November 20, 2020 — five months before the Mela — following orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and in accordance to the Solid-Waste Management Act, 2016.

But the local civic body still took a short cut, jeopardising the the safety of 150,000 people residing in the villages.


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