Allahabad, Jan 14: The 2013 edition of the Maha Kumbh kicked off on Monday, on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. The previous Maha Kumbh was held in 2001. The Mela will go on for 55 days and will witness a congregation of 100 million people. Here are some of the high points of the biggest religious festival on the planet. The Mela will conclude on Maha Shivratri on March 10.
High Points of Maha Kumbh-2013
1. The total area of the Mela premises is 50.83 sq km, almost double the size of that in 2001.
2. One hundred million people expected to visit Kumbh Mela. About 1 crore are expected to visit on Makar Sankranti day alone and 3 crore on Mauni Amawasya that falls on February 10.
3. One million foreign tourists are expected at the mela.
4. The total budget for the Maha Kumbh is Rs 1,200 crore, which is Rs 200 crore more than that of the last edition.
5. The UP government is expected to earn revenues worth Rs 12,000 crore from the mela. The mela would also provide employment to over 6 lakh people.
6. Temporary roads made of chequered steel plates have been laid on the river bank for the occasion. The length of the road is 156 kilometres.
7. Water pipelines worth 570 kilometres have been laid besides 800 km of electric wires and nearly 50 power sub-stations.
8. Over fifteen pontoon bridges and 35,000 toilets have been set up for the two-month long mela.
9. Four godowns and 125 ration shops have been set up in the Mela premises to facilitate pilgrims.
10. Over 115 CCTV cameras have been installed in the mela premises and Allahabad city.
11. Thirty new police stations, 30,000 police officers and 72 companies of paramilitary forces to be deployed during the Mela days.
12. Over 20 doctors and 120 ambulances will be on duty round the clock at the 100-bed central hospital in the Mela premises.
13. 2,500 religious and social organisations from all over the world are set to participate in the Mela. Hollywood actors like Richard Gere, Michael Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta Jones besides spiritual guru Dalai Lama and former US presidential candidate John Hagelin. Are expected at the Mela.
14. Digitised maps of the entire Mela premises have been uploaded for the convenience of the visitors. They can also avail GPS to locate their spiritual and religious leaders and the camps that the latter have set up in the Mela. The government has sought help from the ISRO and Remote Sensing Application Centre to get an extimate of the number of visitors at the Mela. They will take photographs of the entire Mela every 24 hours.