Allahabad zone, adding that a seven-tier security system eliminates any threat of lawlessness.
SP Ganganath Tripathi adds that security personnel have been specially sensitised to deal with pilgrims. “The pattern of duty here is different from general policing. So we had to instill in the forces that their duty here has so much to do with protecting the faith of millions irrespective of the odds. It is our duty to ensure that their faith is reciprocated,” says ADM Ashutosh Kumar Dwivedi, adding that by doing this, the jawans also become “punya ke bhagidaar”.
Kamal Asthana, a pilgrim from Rajasthan, is happy with the tight security arrangements. “It is good to see the security forces in action all the time. Our car was frisked at many points to ensure that we were not carrying anything illegal,” he says.
Planning and preparations for the mela began in September, right after the monsoon was over and the rivers receded, to build “Kumbha Nagri”, complete with all modern facilities to accommodate the tsunami of a thousand lakh people who would descend on its shores for a dip in the holy waters of the confluence. Says Mani Prasad Misra, the officer in charge of the Kumbh Mela, “Money was allotted to various departments to start work in September. Electricity poles and cables have been laid and two permanent sub-stations have been built for round-the-clock power supply. New tubewells have been dug up and as many as 18 pontoon bridges have been put in place. Medical centres have also been increased in the mela area.
To accommodate the needs of the well-heeled Indian as well as foreign tourists, the Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation has made arrangements for luxurious cottages that boast of facilities such as blowers, geysers, separate sitting rooms and well-equipped toilets. Says Bharti Singh, OSD (officer of special duty), UP Tourism, “We have been providing tents for the pilgrims for many years and have introduced luxury cottages this year.” The 10 ‘Maharaja Swiss’ cottages have been imported from Oman and are known for their opulence. Each cottage is made of imported materials like bubble wall