Source: Free Press Journal, November 30, 2000
ALLAHABAD, INDIA: Once every 12 years, a pilgrimage takes place on a grand scale at the confluence, "Sangam," of the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and celestial Saraswati in Allahabad. The months-long Maha Kumbha Mela will bring 70 million devotees from all over India and many other countries to bathe in the Sangam for purification. In the past, devotional fervor has led to injuries on main bathing days. To compensate, the army has offered to build helipads for emergency landing of helicopters. However, the Kumbh Mela committee felt that a helicopter landing would only escalate any emergency situation. In preparation for the pilgrims, ponds have been created to collect sewer water so that the River Ganga has pollution-free water. Pontoon bridges are being built across the Yamuna and 50 additional trains will be transporting people to and from Allahabad -- but this number of trains is acknowledged to be insufficient to handle the massive crowds expected on the main bathing days.