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

Millions of people traveled across India in April for the Kumbh Mela, a major Hindu festival and the world’s largest pilgrimage, held this year in the city of Haridwar.

But it raises concerns for Covid, as the country plunges deeper into a worrying second wave.

“Social distancing is proving to be very difficult, if we try to apply it it can lead to a scramble for the world,” Inspector General of Police Sanjay Gunjyal said Monday morning. Police “continually call on” people to wear masks and follow precautions, he added.

At least 650,000 people had already bathed in the Ganges by early this morning, Gunjyal added. And many more are expected throughout the day, as Monday is considered a particularly auspicious day for diving in sacred waters.

AI monitoring: In their efforts to enforce the measures, officers are using artificial intelligence cameras to monitor several city shores.

“The camera has sensors that alert us when the number of cars in parking lots or foot traffic crosses a certain threshold and we can communicate with people on the ground to start diverting crowds,” said Mukesh Thakur, a senior official. of the police.
“The cameras also detect if people are not wearing masks and the ground officers immediately issue tickets to these people.”

However, it was not possible to issue tickets to everyone on Monday due to the crowds, he added.

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

As of Sunday, at least 1.1 million people were on the various banks of the river. More than 2,200 cases have been reported in Haridwar since the festival began on April 1, according to data released by the Uttarakhand state health department.

Find out more about the festival:

Mass religious festival takes place in India despite Covid fears

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