Pilgrims not to pay tax at fair: Mamata

October 20th, 2011 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Oct 20 (IANS) The West Bengal government has decided to abolish pilgrim tax levied on devotees who assemble at the annual Ganga Sagar Mela, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here Thursday.

The decision will be implemented before the next edition of the fair in mid-January next year, Banerjee told media persons after a meeting on development issues with the district magistrate, superintendent of police, and other officials of South 24 Parganas district.

“We have decided to abolish the pilgrim tax on Ganga Sagar Mela,” Banerjee said.

“We discussed ways to carry forward development programmes from block to block, the progress of 100 day employment guarantee programme, horticulture, water harvesting,” Banerjee said.

The chief minister also interacted with the block development and sub-divisional officers, health officials and other bureaucrats of South 24 Parganas during the meeting.

About 150 km south of here, in South 24 Parganas district, Sagar Island is considered auspicious by the Hindus, who gather there on the occasion of Makar Sankranti to take a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal.

The chief minister also held detailed discussions on construction of roads, rural development, upgradation of the health infrastructure, welfare schemes for the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and other backward classes and setting up of educational institutions and hostels for tribals.

The construction of embankment along the rivers in cyclone Aila-hit Sundarbans will start from Oct 23, she said.

“This work has been pending for two years. Initially, work will cover 1,600 acres of land, over which there is no dispute,” she said.

Aila hit India and Bangladesh May 25, 2009, killing 138 people in West Bengal alone.

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