West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said that the annual Ganga Sagar Mela should be treated at par with Kumbh Mela and turned into a 'pilgrimage of solidarity' (Sanghati Tirtha).
Ganga Sagar Mela is no less important than Kumbh Mela, she said to buttress her point while speaking at the Krishak Bazar at Rudrapur in South 24 Parganas district.
"I do not understand why the Gangasagar Mela will not be given the status of the Kumbh Mela. This mela is being held for ages and pilgrims throng this place in huge numbers for many many years. I think Ganga Sagar Mela must be turned into a pilgrimage of solidarity (Sanhati Tirtha). People from all communities, caste and creed from various corners of the world can come here. Nobody has ever thought of this," she said.
Lauding the preparations for the Ganga Sagar Mela scheduled to be held next month, Banerjee today said that development work in the area has changed it altogether.
"I had paid a visit to the Sagar Island earlier and given suggestions for development here. This time I am here to review the development work here. So much good work has been done. The ghats have been developed, tourist lodge and new parking lots have been developed," she said.
At the Krishak Bazar the chief minister gave away cheques of Rs 10,000 to farmers whose families were affected by the recent floods in the state.
She said that financial compensation were given to around 33,000 flood-hit farmers in the district and Rs 1,200 crore was spent for the purpose by the state government.
Around 30 lakh farmers were affected by the recent floods. "The Centre has not paid a single paise to the state to help the farmers. We decided to do so ourselves as I believe that farmers are our assets. They are the backbone of our society," she added.
Banerjee paid a visit to the Bharat Sevaashram Sangha complex here and the Mela beach for an on-the-spot survey ahead of the Mela.
She also asked Chief Secretary Moloy Dey, who was accompanying her, to chalk out a plan to boost tourism in the Sagar Island.