Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has sought a special assistance of Rs 500 crore from the Centre for the safe conduct of Ardhakumbh Mela during which huge crowds of devotees are likely to converge on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar.
Making the demand at a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi yesterday, Rawat said an estimated 7-8 crore pilgrims from across the country and abroad are likely to attend the event to be held between January to April next year and the state government is making efforts to ensure that it is organised in a safe and accident-free manner, an official release here said.
Out of a proposed budget of Rs 500 crore for the event, Rs 325 crore is to be spent on raising infrastructure of a permanent nature and the rest on arrangements of a temporary nature which will last till the event is underway, Rawat was quoted as saying at the meeting.
"While the state government has cleared proposals worth Rs 210 crore out of its own resources to kickstart the preparations, a special assistance of Rs 500 crore from the Centre is immediately needed to ensure that arrangements of both permanent and temporary nature in view of the event are completed by December 2015," Rawat said.
Noting that the change in funding pattern as per recommendations of the 14th finance commission has adversely impacted the financial condition of Uttarakhand, the Chief Minister also requested the Union Minister to maintain the special category of the hill state considering its strategic importance and vulnerability to natural disasters.
He sought restoration of the previous funding pattern for Uttarakhand on the lines of northeastern states in the ratio of 90:10 which has been changed to 50:50 in accordance with the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.