1.7 LAKH PILGRIMS AT SAGAR MELA 

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By FROM DEBASISH CHATTOPADHYAY
  • Published 14.01.00
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Sagar Island, Jan 14 :     About 170,000 pilgrims had taken the holy bath here till Friday night even as one person died and 37 criminals were arrested. " The bath will continue upto 11 am on Saturday and more than two lakh pilgrims are expected," said R.K.Vats, district magistrate, South 24 Parganas. Ram Deo Chowdhury, a member of Bharat Relief camp , died after a cardiac arrest. Thirty seven criminals, including a sadhu, have been arrested and Rs 16,000 recovered. A sadhu was charged with stealing Rs 400. Four children, who fell off a steamer at Lot No 8 on Thursday night, have been rescued by six civil defence employees. Civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherjee has said the six would be recommended for the Rashtrapati Award. This time the government is worried about pollution during the mela period (January 10 to 16) as lakhs of people gather in an area of only five square km. Prabir Chandra Sinha , executive engineer of Public Health Engineering (PHE) said: "We are worried about pollution hazards and sanitation. Tonnes of plastic bags and other garbage clog the drainage system." Khokon majhi of Sagar Island panchayat samity said the problem continues for several months. The whole area remains filled up with garbage causing serious health hazards." This is the first time cars have not been allowed into the mela area. This has caused much resentment among VIPs, especially ministers. PK Dutta ,Superintendent Engineer, PHE said: "Cars can damage pipelines which are one-and-a-half-feet below the sand."