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Inaugural Shahi Snan meets dismal turnout at Nashik Mahakumbh Mela

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Nashik (Maharashtra): The inaugural ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath) turned out to be a dismal affair as the turnout was rather disappointing, said the organizers on Saturday. The Shahi Snan was organized as a part of the ongoing  Simhastha Kumbh Mela here.

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Since morning, when the ‘Shahi Snan’ got underway at the 20-plus ghats in Nashik and Trimbakeshwar on the Godavari river, the turnout recorded was barely 500,000, said Nashik Deputy Mayor Gurmeet Singh Bagga.

“We have made elaborate arrangements for over three million people expected to attend the first ‘Shahi Snan’. But the turnout has been disappointing,” Bagga told a media outlet.

Several factors were responsible for the lackluster attendance at the event.

The prime reason was the recent Gujarat disturbances which hit road and rail traffic, keeping away a large chunk of nearly one million devotees.

Another reason was the auspicious Raksha Bandhan festival that coincided with the event on Saturday and kept many families away.

Deployment of over 16,000 security personnel created a fear psychosis and kept even local crowds at bay, he explained.

However, Bagga expressed optimism and said that by sunset, around 1.50 million would have performed the ‘Shahi Snan’.

The festivities are continuing peacefully and systematically under the close watch of massive security presence in and around the twin Mela venues.

(With inputs from IANS)

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)