Delhi News

Mamata demands national status for Gangasagar Mela

CHIEF MINISTER Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday reiterated her demand that the Centre should accord national status for the annual Gangasagar Mela that will be held next week. She asserted that the Centre had not paid any heed to her repeated requests to build a bridge over the Muri Ganga river to help pilgrims reach Sagar Island easily.

“We have written to the Centre several times to declare the Gangasagar Mela as a national fair, but we have not received a

response. The state government is now preparing phase-wise DPR for the construction of a bridge at Muriganga. We need Rs 10,000 crore for the project, but as the Centre is not responding to our request, we are working on finding a way to build the bridge,” said Banerjee.

She added, “We wish to reiterate that we want the Gangasagar Mela to be declared as a national event. We appeal to the Centre to approve our request. Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh receives funds from the Centre, but for Gangasagar Mela, the state has to bear all the cost and nothing is received from the Centre. We want Gangasagar Mela to be on the international map so that more international tourists visit the mela.”

Banerjee reached Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas district on Wednesday afternoon to review the preparations for the Gangasagar Mela, to be held from January 8-16. She also inaugurated three helipads.

“I have inaugurated three permanent helipads. These will be used by the public in the days to come. Air ambulance facility will also be available from these helipads. The state government has also inaugurated a guest house, which has been built at a cost of Rs 65 lakh. Tourists can stay at the guest house. Kumbh Mela is a renowned event and it is well-connected with civil aviation facility and Railways. However, the commute to Gangasagar Mela is extremely tough,” said the Chief Minister.

Lakhs of Hindu pilgrims visit Sagar Island from different parts of the country and to take a holy dip at the confluence of the sacred Ganga and the Bay of Bengal on the occasion of ‘Makar Sankranti’. Banerjee also offered prayers at Kapil Muni Temple.

“We have instituted life insurance for policemen, officials, media, tourists, general public and travellers to the Gangasagar Mela. In case of any death, Rs 5 lakh insurance amount will be given to the deceased’s family members,” she added. —With PTI Inputs

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