10 million to gather for 2015 Nashik Kumbh Mela

Mumbai, Oct 18 : The Maharashtra government is gearing up to receive over 10 million pilgrims for the 2015 Kumbh Mela, scheduled after 12 years in the small temple towns of Nashik-Trimbakeshwar, around 175 km north of Mumbai.

Preparations are in full swing to provide all type of infrastructure and amenities -- lodging and boarding, public toilets, water supply and sewage disposal, roads, bridges and transportation, and smooth arrangements for the Shahi Snaan -- for pilgrims, expected to gather from across the world.

"We have finalised a budget of Rs.2,380 crore for all the arrangements at the Kumbh Mela, including creating a 'Sadhugram' for the stay of around 200,000 holy men who will arrive," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.

Chavan said this Saturday he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi seeking maximum possible financial support for the pilgrims' congregation. Later, he will lead a delegation to Manmohan Singh and finalise all arrangements.

The Kumbh Mela is scheduled between July 14-Sep 25, 2015, with the Shahi Snaan on Aug 29, Sep 13 and Sep 25.

Nashik-Trimbakeshwar is among the four places in India -- along with Ujjain, Allahabad and Haridwar -- where the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years.

During the last Kumbh Mela in Nashik-Trimbakeshwar in 2003, around six million people from all over the world took part. However, the pilgrims' Mela was marred by a stampede, in which 29 people were killed on a road leading to Ram Kund on the Godavari river.

While the Nashik Municipal Corporation makes preparations for the mega-pilgrimage, other departments of the state government are also making hectic arrangements for events on the sideline of the mela.

"Usually, lakhs of pilgrims who come for the Kumbh Mela also visit nearby places like Shirdi, Shani-Shingnapur, Bhimashankar and other locations. We are making full arrangements to cater to the additional burden expected on these places, besides tight security," state Home Minister R.R. Patil said.

Tourism and Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said all the infrastructure works taken up in Nashik and surrounding areas would be completed well in time for the Kumbh Mela.

--IANS (Posted on 18-10-2013)

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