To tackle the massive rush of passengers during the upcoming Kumbh Mela, Indian Railways is all set to use technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), in a big way. The national transporter will deploy as many as 800 special trains. According to an IANS report, in a first of its kind initiative in Indian Railways, IBM Intelligent Video Analytics will be pressed into service. This will be done to ensure crowd control at not only railway stations but also adjoining areas during the Ardh Kumbh Mela. Additionally, a new mobile app called Kumbh Rail Seva will be launched by the national transporter to disseminate information to train users and others travelling to Kumbh Mela.
North Central Railway General Manager Rajeev Choudhury was quoted in the report saying that the action plan for the event has been finalized, taking all possible factors into consideration. Indian Railways will be using technology in a significant way in order to facilitate crowd movement in a smooth way. Other than IBM, which will provide video analytics service using AI for crowd control, several powerful CCTVs will be set up to monitor the situation. Also, LED screens will be installed for displaying information, Choudhury said. Moreover, for keeping the pilgrims updated on a real-time basis, social media will be used extensively. To manage the crowd movement at ten railway stations across Allahabad, Prayag, Prayag Ghat, Jhunsi, Naini, Cheoki and Allahabad city, Indian Railways is deploying over 5,000 Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel.
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The event of Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, the confluence of the Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati rivers, will start from January 15 and conclude on March 4, 2019. Considered to be the world’s largest religious event, it is expected that more than 100 million devotees and Hindu ascetics will attend the almost two-month-long Kumbh Mela.
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As per the state government data, it is expected that 12 million pilgrims will attend the event on January 15 (Makar Sankranti), 5.5 million pilgrims on January 21 (Paush Purnima), 30 million pilgrims on February 4 (Mauni Amavasya), 20 million pilgrims on February 10 (Basant Panchami), 16 million pilgrims on February 19 (Maghi Purnima), and 6 million pilgrims on March 4 (Mahashivratri), the report said.
To make the event a success, Indian Railways is working in close coordination with state administration, Choudhry said. Also, in order to ensure hassle-free movement of passengers, many infrastructure projects including a new platform, a foot-over bridge and skywalks are being built. The aim is to decongest all possible crowded places so that passengers coming from different directions can move towards the bathing ghats and return safely. Also, each railway station will have its own traffic management plan, he added.