A Rs 11,000-cr floating economy

A Rs 11,000-cr floating economy

The world over, large religious congregations are known to be disaster-prone. However, Indian cities seem to have cracked the code of organising events largely free from mishaps. We look at three recent religious congregations, hosted in Ujjain, Allahabad and Puri, that have become international case studies

Ujjain Kumbh Mela, Madhya Pradeshn

Madhya Pradesh started preparation for the Ujjain Kumbh mela way back in 2012, with an initial budgetary allocation of Rs 100 crore. State’s Finance MinisterJayant Malaiya demanded Rs 2,800 crore from the central government for infrastructure development in Ujjain to ease traffic pressure and ensure better health facilities, as well as uninterrupted power supply during the mela, also known as Simhastha Kumbh. In 2014-15, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhanwrote to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, demanding Rs 3,500 crore, to which Jaitley wrote back confirming the release of only Rs 100 crore.

Later, in the 2016 Budget, the state made a provision of Rs 200 crore. Construction of 13 flyovers and 11 new roads required Rs 2,000 crore, besides a wide sewage network, 3,000-hectare land levelling, 100-km power line and creation of new ghats on an eight-km stretch.

Interestingly, despite a fund crunch as pointed out by Chouhan in his letter to Jaitley, a separate ‘Vichar Kumbh’ (ideological congregation) of religious experts was also organised – at a cost of Rs 45 crore. This three-day marathon meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. Read more.

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