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Hindu devotees gather on the banks of the Ganges River during the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar on 11 April. Money Sharma / AFP / Getty Image

Millions of people are traveling across India in April for the Kumbh Mela, a major Hindu festival held in Haridwar city this year and the largest pilgrimage center on earth.

But this is raising Kovid’s concerns, as the country sinks in a worrying second wave.

“The social disturbance is proving very difficult, if we try to implement it, it can lead to a stampede,” Inspector General of Police Sanjay Gunjyal told local news in the early hours of Monday. Police have “consistently appealed” to people to wear masks and use caution.

Gunjyal said that at least 650,000 people had taken a dip in the Ganges river early this morning. And many more are expected throughout the day, as Monday is considered a particularly auspicious day to take a dip in the holy waters.

AI monitoring: In their efforts to implement the measures, officials are using artificial intelligence cameras for surveillance in several river banks of the city.

Mukesh Thakur, a senior police officer, said, “The cameras have sensors that allow the number of cars in the parking area or foot traffic to cross a certain limit and we can communicate with people.”
“Cameras also detect if people are not wearing masks and officers on the ground immediately issue tickets to those people.”

However, due to heavy crowds, it was not possible to issue tickets to everyone on Monday.

Some 15,000 security personnel are also involved in crowd control and administration.

On Sunday, at least 1.1 million people were on various banks of the river. According to the data released by the Uttarakhand State Health Department, more than 2,200 cases have been reported in Haridwar since the festival started on 1 April.

Read more about the festival:

Despite the fears of Kovid, mass religious celebrations go ahead in India.

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