We are just a few hours away from the Ardh Kumbh in Prayagraj, the largest religious gathering anywhere in the world. As the world will looking towards India, it is the best time for us to spread the message of effective waste management and care to mother earth.
The Environment Ministry is planning to make the Ardh Kumbh Mela single use plastic-free in line with the country’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastics by 2022.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the need for implementation of the “golden principle” of 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle –to ensure better waste management in the country.
The upcoming Kumbh also presents a unique opportunity to cleanse the sins committed to mother earth in the form of littering of single-use plastics.
The biggest challenge in such a mass gathering is proper disposal of waste. Every item of single-use plastic which doesn’t get properly disposed or recycled will add up to the already alarming pollution levels of our holy rivers.
“The upcoming Ardh Kumbh is the largest gathering of humanity, with millions of Hindu ascetics, pilgrims and tourists from across the globe visiting, to take a dip at the Sangam. As one of the most revered spiritual organization in India, it is our responsibility to safeguard the religious sentiments of devotees by protecting the holy rivers – Ganga and Yamuna from pollution, especially from single-use plastics. We urge devotees attending the Ardh Kumbh to shun the use of single-use plastics like polythene bags, gutkha pouches, disposable cutlery, straws etc. Other plastics like water and juice bottles can be recycled and should be responsibly disposed of after use,” Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh) & Co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance said.
“We appeal devotees to pledge and set a precedent of plastic disposal and recycling during the upcoming Kumbh, so the world could follow our footsteps. This will help in protecting the holy rivers and reinstate India’s ancient position of ‘World-Guru’ to lead humanity towards a sustainable future”, he said.
In line with the government’s vision, the need of the hour is to drive awareness, in association with communities, NGOs, students and other stakeholders, to ensure better implementation of waste management and plastic recycling mechanism during the Ardh Kumbh.
20,000 community urinals will also be installed, NMCG will also set up 16,000 dustbins throughout Allahabad for proper disposal of waste. These will be regularly cleared and the collected waste will be sent for disposing at nearby waste treatment plants. The NMCG is confident that such a large number of dustbins will ensure a cleaner Kumbh. The NMCG will also encourage people to keep their surroundings clean during the festival, use toilets and dustbins regularly.
“We will promote this Kumbh as a festival of cleanliness. People will be asked to dispose waste in dustbins and use toilets regularly, as all the provisions will be ready. We will also make people aware of the dangers of disposing waste into the Ganga river, or defecating on the river’s banks,” said Mr Ray.
If the Mela is conducted successfully with proper sanitation and waste management measures in place, it will be a big boost to Uttar Pradesh’s Swachhata mission. The state needs 1.5 crore toilets to become open defecation free (ODF), and has built around 1.1 crore toilets till date. UP has set a deadline of October 2, 2018 to become completely ODF.
Plastics like water bottles/jars (PET), buckets, mugs can be collected and recycled. Post usage, it can be recycled multiple times to create various everyday use products like T-shirts, bags, pillows, mattresses etc.