West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday rued the "lack of central aid" for the annual Gangasagar mela, which is attended by lakhs of pilgrims, and said her government would continue to bear the expenses as per its capability.
Banerjee, who had been demanding the status of 'national fair' for Gangasagar Mela, noted that 70 lakh pilgrims have taken holy dip at the congregation this year.
"At least 70 lakh people visited Gangasagar Mela this year from all over the country. They have crossed waterways to reach the (Sagar) island. Throughout the year, one crore people visit Gangasagar. It's our ill luck that the Centre, despite the heavy footfall, does not spend a single penny on the event," Banerjee said here.
She was speaking at an administrative review meeting here in Murshidabad district. The CM also asserted that she would not impose any tax on the pilgrims.
"Whatever we could, we did for the Gangasagar Mela. There's nothing to be worried about; we will generate funds as per our capability... I will not impose tax on pilgrims, but I will definitely try to get funds for the mela.
"You (Centre) cannot just decide on not giving funds and then stop us, too, from sourcing it from elesewhere," she said.
Earlier this month, Banerjee had alleged that the Union government, despite requests, did not take any measure to help the state build a bridge over the Muri Ganga river for pilgrims to reach the island without hassle.
“The central government provides huge funds for the Kumbh Mela. They bear the entire expenses, but Bengal gets nothing for the Gangasagar Mela. I will request the Centre again to declare the event a 'national fair'," she had said during her visit to the island.
-With PTI Input