My daughter and husband had an upset stomach and not even once did we find a toilet to use,” said Annu Devi, a resident of Meerut who was one of the 40 million Kanwar pilgrims who came to Haridwar this year in July. “All of us have no other option than defecating in the open.”
With the 12-day long Kanwar Yatra, when devotees of Lord Shiva from across the country, especially north India, take a trip to the Ganges, Haridwar becomes home to several million Kanwariyas, as the pilgrims on the journey are known. The number of pilgrims is higher on Mondays, the day considered the most pious by devotees of Shiva. The Kanwar Yatra took place this year from July 14 to July 26.
Because of a lack of infrastructure to handle the excess waste generated by the visitors, festivals such as these cause what is known as “episodic pollution”.
This usually happens because of mass gatherings that end up creating untreated waste, which pollutes the land, air or water, and impacts people’s health, and the area’s ecology.
There is evidence of episodic pollution from mass gatherings like the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj and in Nashik in 2003, polluting river and land, and the excessive bursting of firecrackers during Diwali polluting air.
Better planning, management and…