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Maharashtra government yet to give Rs 200 crore for Kumbh Mela: Nashik mayor

Nashik (PTI):The mayor of Nashik, hosting the Kumbh Mela, on Thursday said the Maharashtra government was yet to release a sum of Rs 202 crore for arrangement of the religious congregation but the local civic body was adequately equipped to handle crores of devotees coming for the mega event.

Speaking to PTI, Mayor Ashok Murtadak said, “A committee headed by the Chief Minister and comprising the officials of NMC (Nashik Municipal Corporation) and state government had approved a draft Simhastha (Kumbh) plan of Rs 1,052.61 crore.

This included Rs 200 crore for acquiring land for developing sadhugram (village for sadhus).

“So we were left with only Rs 852.61 crore for Kumbh Mela development work in our municipal jurisdiction. The state government later approved an additional mela-related work of Rs 66.68 crore so budget swelled to Rs 919.29 crore,” he said.

According to the understanding, the state government was to release an amount of Rs 689.47 crore. But so far it has paid (to NMC) only Rs 487.17 crore and the rest (Rs 202.30 crore) is yet to be sanctioned, Murtadak said.

“I contacted Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) on July 15 and he assured to look into the matter immediately,” said the Mayor, who belongs to Raj Thackeray-led MNS. “There could be some valid reason for the non-issuance of the remaining fund, but I am very much hopeful that our civic body would receive its due,” he said.

Murtadak said once the NMC gets the outstanding money, it would be passed on to different heads of the Corporation to fund their day-to-day functioning.

“I have been informed we are going to get Rs 100 crore very soon,” he said. The Mayor said NMC members, irrespective of their party affiliation, its employees and state staffers have worked very hard for the Kumbh Mela, which started on July 14.

The cop-turned-politician said the sanctioned amount went into developing facilities like internal roads, water supply, electricity, drainage line, security arrangements, media centre, hospital, toilets, bathrooms and parking.
The NMC is fully equipped to handle the rush of devotees coming all over India and also abroad, he said.

“Our only shortcoming is that we are facing a shortage of cleaning staff. Though we have hired sufficient staff for three months, we want garbage cleaning exercise to continue on sustainable basis. Hence, we have requested the Government to sanction more cleaning staff,” Murtadak added.