5 crore people cleanse themselves at the cost of 5000

Ujjain's own labourers, farmers and the Kshipra river will bear the brunt of the onslaught of pilgrims at the upcoming Ujjain Simhastha (Kumbh Mela).
24 Feb 2016
0 mins read
Early morning at Ramghat, Ujjain
Early morning at Ramghat, Ujjain

The Ujjain Simhastha (Kumbh Mela) in Madhya Pradesh will begin on April 22, 2016 and go on for a month. The event, held once every 12 years, holds religious significance to Hindus, and throngs of people--approximately 5 crore over the month--take a holy dip in the Kshipra river during this time. "On the occasion of first Shahi Snana on April 22, up to 1.5 crore pilgrims will come over the 24-hour period,” says Commissioner Pastor. Managing this mass is a herculean task for the Ujjain administration and the MP government. 

"For organising Simhastha 2016, the Madhya Pradesh government has acquired 3000 hectares of land and also allocated Rs. 3000 crore for the infrastructure development work", says Diwakar Natu, Chairman of Simhastha Fair Authority. 

This event holds significance of a different kind for the thousands of labourers and farmers at Ujjain, as well as the environment in and around the Kshipra river.


While the water of the Kshipra is not fit for bathing at regular times, the Madhya Pradesh government has implemented the Narmada-Kshipra link for the Simhastha Maha Kumbh Mahaparva 2016. They hope that the pumping of five cusecs of water from the Narmada into the starting point of the Kshipra, will clean and improve the quality of the Kshipra's water.

46,000 toilets that will generate more than 50 tons of solid waste will be constructed in the entire Simhastha area. "The public urinals in and around Ramghat are poorly constructed and are not fit for public use. During Simhastha, we are worried about the stench created due to poor construction of toilets", says Purushottam Dubey Angoothiwale, a local priest at Ramghat.

"At Ramghat, more than five crore people will bathe during the Simhastha and more than 10 million visitors will visit Ujjain to perform prayers on the banks of the Kshipra", says 38 year old Mohit Trevedi, a Ramghat priest.

The Simhastha will affect more than 50 families whose livelihoods depend on selling pooja materials. The government has asked them to leave Ramghat for a month. "How we will sustain our families", asks Rupa Gayakwad, a shopkeeper from Ramghat, Ujjain.

"For the laundry to dry, we need space. The government has issued a notice to us to vacate the ghat area during Simhastha. The livelihoods of more than 100 families will be affected, and we are not being compensated for this loss", says Ganesh Baji, a laundry owner at Ramghat, Ujjain.

"The barbers will not be affected as much. There are 50 of us at Ramghat and the government has only asked us to remove the chairs, but we can perform our jobs without chairs also," says Deepak Verma, a barber.

"For Simhastha, the livelihood of 1600 labourers from 35 brick kilns around Kshipra will be affected because the government has asked the brick kiln owners to shift to another location for two months", says 55 year old Raghunath Prajapati, a brick kiln owner.

"2500 farmers livelihoods will be affected because the agricultural land will be used for Simhastha purposes. 25 farmers from the Gaughat area in Ujjain did not receive any compensation. The loss incurred by farmers is about Rs. 60,000 per bigha (0.25 acres)", says Ramesh Mali, a farmer from Gaughat, Ujjain.

"Due to Simhastha, all the grazing land was removed.  About 1000 cattle live around the Gaughat area, and owners have to spend Rs.200-300 per day to feed their animals which have added to the additional financial burden on farmers", says Kesar Sing Pujari, a farmer from Gaughat, Ujjain.



View photos of Ujjain before Simhastha 2016.


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