Gangasagar (WB) | Tight security measures have been put in place at Gangasagar Mela for Makar Sankranti, a senior minister said.
State Power and Sports Minister Aroop Biswas said 45 lakh pilgrims have taken a holy dip at Gangsagar from January 8 to 13 and the number is likely to swell on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on Monday.
He said 14,000 policemen have been deployed, 45 watch towers built, over 1,100 CCTVs installed and pilgrims are being ferried to Sagar Island through 36 vessels, 100 launches and six barges across 22 jetties, while 300 fog lights have been installed on Muriganga River.
The senior minister reiterated the state government's demand for according national fair tag for Gangasagar Mela akin to Kumbh Mela.
"It is very difficult for the state government alone to bear the huge expenses of organising the annual fair. Due to an increase in footfall as a result of improved communication, over Rs 265 crore is expected to be incurred during this year's fair.
"If the central government recognises Gangasagar Mela as a national fair, more developmental works could be taken up. Massive sea erosion is taking place near Kapil Muni Ashram. To stop it, financial assistance and cooperation from the Centre is needed," the ministers told reporters on Saturday.
The minister said a total of 180 people have been arrested for anti-social activities at the fair so far.
So far, six patients have been shifted to various hospitals in Kolkata by air ambulance, he added.
According to Hrishikesh Panjika, the auspicious timing for 'punya snan' or holy bath on Makar Sankranti will begin at 12.13 am on Monday and continue for the next 24 hours. Most of the devotees will follow this timing and take the holy dip.
However, some devotees also followed the Mahabir Panjika, according to which, the auspicious timing for the holy bath began at 8.42 am on Sunday and will continue till 6 pm during the day.