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Officials on board to make world's biggest human gathering greener

January 21, 2013:

ALLAHABAD, JANUARY 21. City and state officials responsible for the biggest human gathering in the world took an important step today in making the 12-yearly Kumbh Mela greener.

The Bhumi Project and Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), in collaboration with the Ganga Action Parivar, held a key meeting on Saturday beside the first “green camp” at the Kumbh Mela to promote greener pilgrimages all around India.

The meeting was held on the banks of the sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad, India.

In attendance were many important dignitaries, including the Governor of Uttarakhand, Dr Aziz Qureshi, the Mayor of Allahabad, Abhilasha Gupta, and the Mayor of Varanasi, Ram Gopal Mohale. In his address, Dr Quershi recommitted himself and his state officials and staff to ensuring the four holy sites in Uttarakhand, namely Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath, are environmentally friendly. “When I was elected into office, my priority was to preserve these holy places, and I will continue to do that” remarked Dr Quereshi.

Pilgrims and animals sit amongst the rubbish beside the sacred river during this year's Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela, which occurs every 12 years in Allahabad, is the largest religious gathering on the planet. This more than 100 million pilgrims are expected to attend during the month-long festivities. Such large numbers pose significant environmental challenges, from waste disposal, sanitation, and energy use.

Followers were invited to clean the banks of the Ganges of plastic bags and other waste.

The Green Pilgrimage Network was founded in 2009 by ARC as an international network of religious sites in Europe, Africa and Asia that have committed to a vision of pilgrimage that is mindful of the Earth.

Bhumi Project Manager, Gopal Patel said, “We are very encouraged by the commitments made today. We now ask more Hindu groups, leaders and representatives of holy places to come forward and join us. Together we can work towards preserving the original spirit and mood of pilgrimage, where every step is an offering to God.”

ARC’s Chantal Elkin said, “This is the first step. Our vision is that in 12 years time, every camp at the Kumbh Mela will be green, and every pilgrim will be reminded that it is the sacred duty of every Hindu to protect the environment.”


NOTES FOR EDITORS Photos are available on Flickr.

Links

Green Pilgrimage Network

Hindu/Bhumi Project Long-Term Environmental Plan.

Rishikesh workshop meeting.

Bhumi Project.

6Ts Programme

Coverage by the Wall St Journal.

Coverage by Asian Image

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