West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday launched a scathing attack against the Centre for "deliberately neglecting" the Gangasagar Mela at Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas district.
"The Union government provides all assistance and expenditure for Kumbh Mela. But they do not provide any financial assistance for Gangasagar Mela. The entire expenditure of the Gangasagar Mela has to be borne by the state.
I request the Union government to declare Gangasagar Island at a national event," she said during her visit to Sagar Island on Wednesday to review the security arrangements for the mega event.
The nine-day religious gathering will begin on January 9 and go on till January 17, while the holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti will be taken on January 14 and January 15.
The state administration is expecting a record turnout of around 30 lakh pilgrims at the Gangasagar Mela this time considering that there will not be a coinciding Kumbh Mela.
The Chief Minister also said it is unfortunate that people still have to travel through waterways to attend the Gangasagar Mela, while the Kumbh Mela held at Prayagraj is well connected through rail and air routes.
"I have repeatedly appealed to the Union government to look into the matter. But I am yet to get any firm commitment. A bridge is required to be constructed over the Muri Ganga River here. But that will cost around Rs 10,000 crore. But we are still looking into the matter," she said.