Few know that the world’s biggest religious fair, for which present state and central governments have pumped in hundreds of crores with not much return, was a source of revenue generation in the British era. In return, the British upgraded the medical, health and sanitation facilities in the city post Kumbh.
The circulars and government orders from the Regional Archive Office show that revenue generated from Kumbh was used to increase medical facilities, increase salary of employees, fix wages and maintain buildings like Thornhill Myre Memorial Hall-where the first meeting of state legislature was held.
Similarly, the Chandrashekhar Azad Park (then Alfred Park), Khusro Bagh (housing majestic mausoleums of emperor Jahangir’s son, Khusro Mirza, wife Shah Begum and daughter Princess Sultan Nithar Begam) along with several buildings and sanitation were maintained from the revenue generated from the mega fair.
Regional archives officer (RAO) Amit Agnihotri informed, “The circulars issued during the period show that during the British era, revenue was more than the expenditure. As per records, prior to 1906, the revenue was about Rs. 10,000 which was a big amount then, even after spending of stipulated budget of R 30,000 in the management of the mela.”
The documents show that after the successful completion of the mela in 1870, the British government used to felicitate the mela manager and inspector with Rs. 150 from the revenue.
“The British made the same arrangements like the present mela administration, including trains for mela, construction of roads, laying of water pipe line and power supply. The main reason for the revenue generation, as suggested by documents, seems to be maximum utilisation of all the available resources and effective use of manpower,” said the RAO.
A prominent reason for revenue generation was the licensing regime established by the British.