A mobile application, robust transportation arrangements, CCTV cameras for security, tents with modern amenities and in a first, aggressive branding of the Gangasagar Mela. These are among the measures that the state government has taken to put the fair on the tourist map even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the Centre for allegedly refusing to give financial assistance to the annual event, unlike the Kumbh Mela.
“We have repeatedly told the Central government that you pay a lot to Uttar Pradesh for the Kumbh Mela, but nothing for the Gangasagar Mela. We appealed to the Centre to fund an iron bridge at Gangasagar. But the Centre refused to do so. Once my government has money and is out of debt, we ourselves will build it,” she said.
The Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years in Haridwar, Prayagraj, Nashik and Ujjain. The last one in 2019 was held in Prayagraj.
Banerjee visited an ashram at Gangasagar and met sants who asked her to build more toilets and roads. She promised that the district administration would make all the arrangements for them. Mahanta Jnandasji Maharaj of Akhil Bharatiya Sree Panch Ramanandi Nirbani Akhara of Ayodhya seconded Banerjee’s demand. He said in the past, he had made similar requests to the Central government, but to no avail.
Thousands of pilgrims visit Sagar Isalnd in South 24 Parganas district for a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga river and the Bay of Bengal. The fair will start from January 11.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate P Ulganathan said this was the first time that the state government was aggressively advertising the fair at part with the Kumbh Mela. The district administration has also launched a one-stop mobile application, called Atithi Path, with information related to train and bus timings, and lodging facilities.
“To ensure security and real-time management, we have installed 1,000 CCTV cameras and 20 drones. Real time crowd tracking is done through an integrated (civil and police) control room. GPS has been installed in all buses and boat,” said Ulganathan.