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Ians

With the Ganga having changed its course by shifting westwards, there is now less land left for the upcoming Magh Mela in Prayagraj.

The decrease in land that has to be allotted to seers and different religious organisations for the month long fair, has put the Mela authorities in a piquant situation.

In 2004, the river had shifted towards the east and pilgrim had to walk a longer distance to reach the Sangam- the confluence point of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati.

Mela officer, Shesh Mani Pandey, said: "The current of the river is quite strong and our experts are working tirelessly to minimise the erosion. We are keeping a tight vigil on the currents."

Water carpenters, known as 'Bind-Mallaha', have been asked to make crates with bamboo and place the same at carefully selected points at the banks where the river is causing erosion.

"We are placing two crates one behind the other and both are tied with strong ropes. These are filled with gunny bags having sands. This checks erosion to an extent," said the official of the flood control department working on the erosion site.

The JCB will be pressed into service which is making points for fixing the crates to check the erosion.

What is making erosion a major problem this year is the increased water level in the river, compared to previous years.

"It has become challenging for the mela authorities to control the currents of the river and with Ganga known for strong and unpredictable direction of its current, there needs to be continuous efforts to face the challenge," said Mahant Hari Chaitanya Bhramchari, known for fighting for the cause of clean Ganga.

The Magh Mela, is an annual religious festival held in the month of Magh (January/February) near riverbanks and sacred tanks near Hindu temples.

Every 12 years, Magha Melas turns into the Kumbh Mela.

Lakhs of devotees camp on the banks of the rivers and take a holy dip every day while religious outfits and sects set up their camps on the river banks during the period.

The Mela, in 2022, will begin on January 14 and end on March 1.

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