(Eds: With more inputs, minor edits) Kolkata, Jan 8 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the central government does not provide funds for the annual 'Gangasagar Mela' held in the state, though it extends financial assistance to the 'Kumbh Mela'.
Listing out various projects initiated by the state government in view of the Mela, held on the occasion of 'Makar Sankranti', Banerjee said the administration has been making consistent efforts to develop the Sagar Island, where it is held.
'Gangasagar Mela is at par with the Kumbh Mela. The Centre provides funds for Kumbh Mela but does not extend financial assistance for Gangasagar,' Banerjee said at Outram Ghat here.
The Kumbh Mela is held in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.
The West Bengal government had recently rolled back the pilgrim tax.
'We had been demanding the withdrawal of pilgrim tax when we were in the opposition but to no avail. But, once we came to power, we decided to scrap it with immediate effect,' she said.
Asking devotees not to hurry to board vessels during their trip to the confluence, the CM said Rs 5 lakh as insurance would be given to the next of kin of a pilgrim in case of death.
Banerjee said apart from making available 10 lakh water pouches and 4,000 buses, air ambulances will be deployed to help the pilgrims travelling from UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and other states.
Lakhs of pilgrims from across the country gather every year at Sagar Island, situated at the confluence of the Ganga and Bay of Bengal, for the holy dip. PTI SUS PNT KK RBT RBT