| Kanwariyas on Tuesday pray at Sidhi Ghat in Sultanganj before leaving for Deoghar. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Land reforms minister Ramai Ram on Tuesday assured kanwariyas of providing all kinds of facilities during the month of Shravan to help them perform the holy task in Deoghar smoothly.
The Shravani Mela, which started on Tuesday, is the most celebrated month-long festival in Sultanganj in Bihar to Deoghar in Jharkhand. Thousands of Shiva devotees from India, Nepal and from other countries around the world undertake a pilgrimage from Sultanganj to Baba Baidyanath Temple in Jharkhand. The mela ends on August 20.
Ram, who is also the chairperson of the state Mela Development Authority, addressed an impressive gathering at Sidhi Ghat on the banks of Ganga on Tuesday afternoon.
“The state government has doubled the funds for the mela. For the maintenance of the month-long fair as well as to maintain the 12-km stretch of the kanwariya path (mudroad on which the kanwariyas travel to Deoghar with gangajal) in Bhagalpur, nearly Rs 1 crore has been allocated. We have received a roadmap from the district administration to properly conduct the festivities and how better we can make it in future years,” Ram said.
He added: “The government is serious in implementing the proposed roadmap. With its implementation, we would assure the best facilities to the pilgrims for the next 25 years.”
Ram also asked Bhagalpur district magistrate Prem Singh Meena to provide all possible help to the saffron-clad pilgrims.
“I heard construction of additional lavatories and washrooms at Sidhi Ghat has not yet started. You get the work started, I will provide you with the requisite money,” Ram told Meena during the inaugural function at Sidhi Ghat.
The minister, however, did not miss an opportunity to spit venom at one-time-ally-turned-rival, BJP, from the dais near the Ganga bank.
“BJP is a pandubbi (submarine), which is plotting sabotage. The JD(U), under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, had sniffed their ploy. Now, we have abandoned the pandubbi in the water and have come out of it,” he said.
He added that despite such a big festivity going on in the neighbourhood, BJP leaders such as the MP and MLA from Bhagalpur and many others, who were invited to the Shravani Mela inaugural function, did not turn up.
BJP leader and former working president Dayanand Choudhry, on the other hand, highlighted the government’s failures in handling the festival.
“The BJP had decided to boycott the function in Sultanganj. The town is sitting on garbage. There is zero facility for the pilgrims. There is no sufficient lighting arrangement on the kanwariya path. The government can only assure people of good things that are going to happen. But they never happen,” Choudhry said.