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Tanneries close to Kolkatta and Allahabad have been asked by the local environmental authorities to stop wastewater discharges three days before people take the holy dip in the Ganga during the Magh Mela to keep the river clean for pilgrims. A recent meeting was held with the local tanning association and tannery owners and it was decided that leather processing will remain suspended three days before the days marked for the holy dip, officials of the Regional Pollution Control Board said.
The measures have been taken to ensure that harmful chemicals do not enter the Ganga and the river is clean for the pilgrims, they said. However, the statement does put into question exactly what the tanneries in the region are actually discharging into the river outside of the Magh Mela.
In accordance with the order, in view of the Makarsankranti festival, wet processing of leather will not take place in the tanneries from January 11 - 14. Similarly, no wet processing will take place from January 27 - 30 for Mauni Avasya, they said. Also, in view of of Basant Panchami on February 14, the tanneries would not discharge between February 11-13, they said. The tannery owners have been informed that if they carry out the cleaning process on the given dates, strict action would be taken against them. There are around 350 tanneries functioning in the region and around 20,000 people are employed in these tanneries. The Magh Mela will start on January 14.
The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious affairs for Hindus. Hindu mythology considers the origin of the Magh Mela to be the beginning of the Universe. An important occasion, the Magh Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.