Allahabad, Feb 9: It is not just the millions trickling into the sprawling 58 sq km campus of the Kumbh Mela that officials worry about. There is also an ‘army’ of mosquitoes to tackle.
A day ahead of Mauni Amavasya, the biggest bathing day at the Kumbh, health, sanitation and medical agencies here are racing against time before an estimated three crore pilgrims pour in.
Officials say they are working to ‘minimize, if not wipe out’ the menace of mosquitoes and flies.
A whopping 7,000 workers and sweepers have been pressed into service to take care of the growing population of mosquitoes.
With foreigners complaining of fever and malaria like symptoms, Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi has told the health department to ensure that there is no outbreak of any disease in the mela.
‘We have requisitioned sprinklers, extra pesticides and insecticides and are paying attention to sanitation and hygiene in a big way,’ said Suresh Dwivedi, a doctor.
The 14 sectors at Kumbh have been divided into 22 circles, with a doctor assigned for each circle.
A total of 580 sweeper ‘gangs’ (each has 12 sweepers) have been pressed into service to work in eight-hour shifts.
A total of 100 teams have been put into service to sprinkle DDT and anti-larva sprays in areas where water-logging has been reported.
Officials admit several cases of malaria are being reported.
Nine high pressure machines have been put into service to spray chemicals to minimize the vector attack.
Kalpana Saxena, a teacher from the US who is on a trip to the Kumbh, conceded that while the arrangements ‘looked good’, mosquitoes were a ‘big time menace’.
Saints and kalpavasis have also reported fever.
‘With a large number of people in the premises, there are bound to be problems on the hygiene front,’ said Ramesh Srivastava, the additional director in the health department.
‘Even though 1.47 lakh toilets are functional, people are defecating in the open, leading to health hazards,’ he said.