Dehradun: With only about a month to go before millions of people start to descend on Haridwar in Uttarakhand for the Ardh Kumbh’s first holy dip in the Ganga, the state government has reiterated its demand for a Rs.500 crore central grant to provide facilities for the pilgrims.
The central government must release Rs.500 crore at the earliest to help the state fund projects to facilitate the passage of about eight crore pilgrims over about 14 weeks of a series of ‘snans’ (holy dips) of Ardh Kumbh, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Of the outlay, the chief minister said Rs.400 crore would be used for “permanent structures” while Rs.100 crore had been earmarked for temporary structures and public utilities.
While the state had already been carrying out various projects for Ardh Kumbh, it’s still not clear how some of “permanent structures” that Rawat referred to in his letter could be completed in the time available before the pilgrimage starts.
“Keeping in mind the limited resources of the state government, the budget allows only Rs.350 crore from our end and work on many things is nearing completion” the chief minister said.
Rawat also pointed out that the Niti Commission had also approved financial aid of Rs. 166.67 crore to the state for the Ardh Kumbh but the funds had yet not been released.
The first ‘snan’ of the Ardh Kumbh is scheduled on January 14, 2016 – Makar Sankranti according to the Hindu calendar – and the last on April 22, 2016 on Chaitra Shukla Purnima.