Three crore pilgrims expected
WITH THE Simhastha only five days away, the Ujjain administration is quietly confident that there would be no goof ups and they would be able to ensure a accident free and epidemic free Simhastha 2004.
At a ‘meet the press’ in Indore yesterday, Ujjain Divisional Commissioner C P Arora, who was accompanied by Ujjain Collector Dr Rajesh Rajora and Mela Officer R K Gupta, said around three crore pilgrims are expected to land in Ujjain during the course of the month long Simhastha, and he would consider the occasion a success if the pilgrims get to take a dip in the holy Kshipra, visit the Mahakal temple and take the blessings of the patron saints.
Denying that there was mismanagement in handling the works related to Simhastha, Arora said that part of the slander campaign was political motivated in view of the forthcoming elections. He informed that they had received around Rs 310 crore, both from the Centre and State government for the Simhastha and so far Rs 268 crores had been allotted to various departments to start their work, and of it Rs 183 crores has been spent. He maintained that the quality of construction work was up to the mark and a team of experts was regularly monitoring it.
Admitting that there had been a delay in starting the works, Arora said that part of the reason was due to lack of budgetary allocation, and also due to change in priority of the new government. He assured that work was going on a war footing in the past 100 days and everything would be in place before the start of the Simhastha. “However, for us the real test would be on May 5 when the Simhastha ends and the pilgrims including the sadhus and sants say they were satisfied with the arrangements.”
Referring to the problems that arose due to change in priorities of the new government, Arora said that after it was decided that free water and power would be supplied to the various akharas, there was a surge in the number of power connections being demanded. While earlier they had thought that each akhara would take around three power connections, now that it is free they have taken between 40 to 50 connections.
On the dispute between followers of Juna Akhara and those of Agni Ahawan, Collector Rajora said that the followers of Agni Ahawan would not be given an exclusive time slot to take dip in the Kshipra. He said according to the traditions, only nine Akharas were given exclusive time, and Agni Ahawan was not one of them and they usually go along with members of Juna Akhara. However, he added that unless there is a clear court direction or from the All India Council of Akharas, there would be no changes.
The officials informed that a call centre would be set up within a couple of days from where any information or complaints regarding the arrangements could be made.