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

Millions of people traveled through India in April to attend the Kumbh Mela, a major Hindu festival and pilgrimage in the world, held in the city of Haridwar this year.

But it raises concerns about Covid as the country delves deeper into a worrying second wave.

“Social distancing is proving to be very difficult. If we try to enforce it, it could lead to a rush,” Police Inspector General Sanjay Gunjyal told local news early Monday. Police are “constantly” urging people to wear masks and follow precautions, he added.

At least 650,000 people have already taken a bath in the Ganges this morning, Gunjyal added. And many more are expected as the day progresses, as Monday is considered a particularly favorable day to immerse yourself in the holy waters.

AI monitoring: In their efforts to enforce measures, officials are using artificial intelligence cameras to monitor several river banks in the city.

“The camera has sensors that alert us when the number of cars in parking lots or pedestrian traffic exceeds a certain threshold, and we can communicate with local people to distract crowds,” said Mukesh Thakur, a senior police officer.
“The cameras also recognize whether people are not wearing masks, and the officers on site immediately issue tickets to these people.”

However, due to the large crowd, it is not possible to issue tickets for everyone on Monday, he added.

Around 15,000 security guards are also involved in controlling and managing the crowd.

At least 1.1 million people were on the different banks of the river on Sunday. According to the Uttarakhand State Health Ministry, more than 2,200 cases have been reported in Haridwar since the festival began on April 1.

Read more about the festival:

Despite Covid's fears, a mass religious festival is taking place in India