Being seen as the toughest edition of the fair till date due to the rising Covid cases and the increased level of water in the Ganga, the mela officials are striving to do their best to conduct the fair in a smooth manner.
Pilgrims, saints and seers started arriving for the occasion in large numbers on the eve of the first bathing festival, amidst unprecedented precautions.
As per the astrologers, the auspicious timing for the bathing on Makar Sankranti will start at 9.13am and last till 4.29pm on Friday.
Ten main bathing ghats have been set up for the pilgrims this time. These would stretch from Nagvasuki to Quila Ghat near Sangam to divert devotees and avoid overcrowding at one place. There would be five sectors in the vast mela area, apart from an additional sub-sector (of sector number 1) which would be inhabited towards Arail side of the Sangam area. This would be called sector 1A.
“We have made all the preparations for the seers, kalpwasis and devotees coming to Magh Mela. The ghats have been prepared and the needed infrastructure is in place. We will ensure that the mela does not become a platform to spread Covid-19 for which thermal scanning would be done at all the entry points”, said Mela Adhikari Shesh Mani Pandey.
He informed that the changing rooms for women devotees were in place and there would be strict compliance with the norms of wearing facemasks. Sanitisers and masks would be given to devotees found without one.
“All the organisations and seers camping in the Magh mela have been asked to provide help desk in their respective camps”, said Pandey.
The Sangam city hosts the annual Magh Mela every year, Ardh Kumbh once every six years and Kumbh once every 12 years. The annual fair this time will conclude with Maha Shivratri bathing on March 1.
Though officials are not sure exactly how many pilgrims will arrive this year in view of the Covid resurgence, they expect around 5-7 lakh pilgrims for the first bathing festival itself.
For proper hygiene and cleanliness, 15,000 toilets have been built in the mela area. There are around 1500 pre-fabricated steel toilets, 3,000 tent toilets, 300 urinals, 9,000 institutional toilets and 900 toilets at camps of government institutions.
There would be proper health care facility too, for which two hospitals, each of 20 bed capacity, have been set up. Besides, there will also be 10 first aid centres spread in the five sectors and a sub-sector of the Magh Mela-2022.
There are 13 police stations and 38 police outposts in various sectors of the mela area this time. Apart from these, there are 13 fire stations and the entire mela area is being watched from 13 watch towers. CCTV cameras have been installed on these towers.
Entry of heavy vehicles has been restricted for January 14 and 15 in view of the first bathing festival of the fair. Besides, entry of two and four-wheelers has also been restricted inside the mela area on all six major bathing festivals.