| Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi inaugurates the Shravani Mela in Sultanganj on Sunday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Jitan Ram Manjhi iterated his government’s interest in facilitating pilgrims’ progress from Sultanganj to Deoghar in Jharkhand during the month-long Shravani Mela.
On Sunday, the chief minister inaugurated the Mela at Sultanganj from where the pilgrims, popularly known as “kanwariyas”, fill their pots with Ganga “jal” to pour it on Shivalinga at Baidyanathdham, Deoghar.
Replying to requests and demands earlier made by the ruling party MLAs and MLCs to upgrade this fair to a national one, Manjhi said during the tenure of Nitish Kumar, the state mela authority had already included this. “We would certainly approach the Centre for according national status to the fair. Since the state government has little to do with this, we can only request the Union government for it,” he said.
Manjhi told the impressive gathering of kanwariyas that work would soon be started for the proposed bridge across the Ganga between Sultanganj and Agubani Ghat in Khagaria district. In February 20014, Nitish laid the foundation stone of the proposed bridge at Agubani Ghat. “We all are quite sensitive to your needs. You need not worry about the facilities. We are serious to provide you the best services here,” he added.
During his 20-minute speech, Manjhi was busy appreciating Nitish and the JDU government for “reviving Bihar”.
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh, land and revenue minister Narendra Narayan Yadav, public health and engineering minister Mahachandra Singh, urban development minister Samrath Choudhary and youth and cultural minister Vinay Bihari in their address also assured the pilgrims that their departments have taken the best measures so that they do not face any difficulties during their barefoot 100 and odd kilometres of journey from Sultanganj to Deoghar.
For the Shravani Mela only, Narendra said, the government has sanctioned Rs 58 lakh for Bhagalpur, Rs 35.70 lakh for Banka and Rs 18 Lakh for Munger district through which the kanwariya path passes. Samrath said the government was ready to approve Rs 30 crore soon for the construction of an alternative kanwariya path, including the flyover from Sidih Ghat to the outskirts of Sultanganj for the pilgrims. At present, the pilgrims have to face difficulty to reach to Tarapur road after fetching Ganga “jal” because they have to walk through the congested market areas of Sultanganj and it also creates traffic snarls time to time during the month-long Mela.
Samrath added that the government would spent Rs 50 crore for renovation of the riverbanks at Sultanganj besides another Rs 8.5 crore for drinking water facility here.
Mahachandra said the state had started providing free pure drinking water to the pilgrims on the 85km stretch of Bihar beside the kanwariya path and for that 20 water-purifying machines have started functioning from Sunday. Besides, 932 hand pumps were installed besides the kanwariya path along with 654 latrines for the pilgrims.
Binod Kumar of Sultanganj said apart from roads, drinking water and electricity always remain major problems. Many kanwariyas complain about the poor conditions of riverbank.
“The government should take care about the basic infrastructure facilities here first,” said Dipak Prasad, a resident of Sultanganj.