In continuation with a series of bizarre government orders coming out in Uttar Pradesh, the latest circular has saddled teachers and cooks at government schools with making arrangements for food and lodging for Ganga Yatra participants in Hardoi district.
Earlier this week, the Uttar Pradesh government had to cancel an order tasking junior engineers with the role of controlling stray cattle when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Mirzapur for the Ganga Yatra.
The order issued by the block education officer of Bilagram in district Hardoi states, “As per the letter of the district basic education officer... dated 28/01/2020, participants of the Ganga Yatra will stay at the villages by the river on the night of 30/01/2020. The task of providing food and lodging of such yatris shall be performed by all teachers and cooks of the below-named schools.”
The order then goes on to name 10 schools—four in Bilagram town and six in Sandi town.
The four-day Ganga Yatra, which started on January 27 from Bijnor and Ballia, will culminate at Kanpur on January 31. The stated aim of the Ganga Yatra is to make villages situated along the banks of the river more prosperous, though it has not been specified how that will happen.
Hemant Rao, the basic shiksha adhikari (BSA) of Hardoi told THE WEEK, “This is a government programme and it is the duty of every government employee to contribute to it.”
An education official from Bilagram, speaking on condition of anonymity said, “In UP, teachers are the most disrespected lot. This is just one example of that. Except for teaching, we must carry out all other duties.”
The Ganga Yatra has become a headache for government staff, according to those have been put on duty to manage it.
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On Wednesday, while the Ganga Yatra was supposed to enter the borders of Farrukhabad at 4.30pm, it entered five hours late. Some 50 safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) had been tasked with taking a motorcycle rally into the city, ahead of the yatra participants. People had also been deployed to fly saffron kites as the yatra entered Farukkhabad, but as night dawned, the kites were abandoned. As the administration had taken over a large part of the ghats on which the yatris had to bathe, the boatmen who anchored their boats at the said spots had been shooed away, leading to a loss of income.
The Ganga Snan kicks off on January 15 every year (as the sun transmigrates into Makara or Capricorn) and millions of devotees throng the river for a ritualistic dip on that day and for a couple of weeks after that to absolve themselves of sins.