Cleanest Kumbh: A Rs 4200 crore business gamble

Written By: Nagen Singh
Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India Updated: Jan 24, 2019, 03:01 PM(IST)

Kumbh Mela Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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This edition of Kumbh is different for the fact that it is the most expensive Kumbh organised ever in Prayagraj. 

The Kumbh Mela has attracted millions of people for centuries on the shores of the confluence of mighty river Ganga, Yamuna and mythical third river Saraswati. But this edition of Kumbh is different for the fact that it is the most expensive Kumbh organised ever in Prayagraj. 

The biggest gathering on the planet straight before the delirium of general elections 2019, Kumbh comes in as an exceptional opportunity for the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh where a strong demonstration by a political party can decide the prime minister of the country, and this gave way to worth $600 million event which will try to attract more than 130 million pilgrims and tourists within 49 days. The Mela is to showcase BJP's commitment to the people of India 

Foreign tourists

A major part of the funds has been spent to attract foreign visitors who are seen as the real source of revenue. The area has also been doubled to 3,200 hectares as compared to 1,600 hectares in the previous Melas.

According to Confederation of Indian Industry,(CII), the mega Kumbh Mela is expected to generate a revenue of Rs 1.2 lakh crore for Uttar Pradesh, but so far it seems impossible in absence of foreign tourists.

A 4,000 tent-strength city of temporary accommodation has also come up at the Mela for tourists. These tents can be booked for as cheap as Rs 650 a bed or Rs 35,000 for the whole tent. 

Kumbh Mela

We visited a tent city with a strength of 1800 tents, which had only 10 foreign tourists staying on January 21, the day of Mauni Amavasya. However, the government had predicted more than 1 crore people visiting Kumbh that day.

They had huge expectations from this Kumbh and these tents were supposed to be booked by now, but so far only a small number of foreign clients have turned up. 

One of the studies by CII claims that the hospitality sector aims at employing 2,50,000 people; aviation sector around 1,50,000 and tour operators around 45,000. Apart from this, there will be around 55,000 new jobs in the unorganised sector comprising tour guides, taxi drivers, interpreters and volunteers. 

But who are the consumers of these facilities in 2019 Kumbh Mela which has maximum arrivals from some of the poorest states of India, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar?

An average Indian visiting Prayagraj Kumbh Mela won't spend the money on tour guides and taxies. India's common man doesn't have such spending capacity. Even in the case of 100 million Indians attending the event, to generate revenue above 1 lakh crore we need foreign tourists arriving and staying at Kumbh. 

Organisers say 122,000 portable toilets and 20,000 trash cans have been installed for the visitors. Due to a lesser number of toilets in the previous Kumbh, people were forced to defecate in the open. Almost everyone who has attended the Kumbh this year is impressed with the cleanliness and hygiene maintained throughout. 

For Kumbh's business, the trump card could be the 12 crore people who are expected to visit the Kumbh between now and the Maha Shivratri on March 4, when the Mela will come to a closure.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

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