Given the complexity and long duration of the transition, a well-defined policy framework, "is required to develop a transition policy along the lines suggested in certain sections of the Mines Act, 1952,” a top official said.
As the INDIA alliance met in Mumbai to plan for the Parliamentary elections next year, another meeting, equally important as far as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is concerned, was taking place in a remote part of her state – the island of Kakdwip, situated on the western part of the Indian Sunderbans. Convened by West Bengal Sunderban Development Minister Bankim Hajra, the Thursday, August 31 meeting kick started preparations for next year’s Ganga Sagar Mela, the annual congregation of hundreds of holy men and woman and hundreds and thousands of pilgrims who gather at the confluence where the Ganges flows into the Bay of Bengal to take a “holy dip” in the sacred waters. “Though the dates of the holy congregation are usually around 14 or 15 January, preparations need to start months earlier,” Bankim Hajra told The Statesman. “There are different aspects to the organization of this huge pilgrimage which need to be planned and implemented meticulously.”
The Ganga Sagar Mela is the country’s second largest holy congregation after the Kumbh Mela and it has been attracting pilgrims to the remote island at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal, near the Kapil Muni Ashram, for hundreds of years. Though earlier considered an extremely difficult journey to undertake given its remoteness and the difficulty in accessing vehicles (earlier only a limited number of boats or launches used ply from the mainland to Sagar Island, where the festival takes place, which was never considered enough in comparison to the rush of pilgrims) over the years the destination has become more accessible.
According to the locals, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has been extremely conscientious in making Sagar Island more accessible to the pilgrims and tourists during Ganga Sagar Mela. “Didi has been very proactive in terms of showering attention on Sagar Island,” says Dipen Mondal, a resident of Sagar Island. He says that the meetings start early and every aspect – from where pilgrims would stay to emergency services during the festivities are looked into.
“Mamata Banerjee has been very keen to develop the Sunderbans and there are projects – different projects from mangrove plantation drives to development to women’s cooperatives for empowerment of women – and the smooth-running of the Ganga Sagar Mela is an integral part of this plan,” Bankim Hajra explains. Expressing satisfaction with the first stage of planning, he said, other meetings and more planning would follow. Just as there would be other meetings of the INDIA alliance.
Clearly, for Didi, the two meetings today – one on India’s west coast by the Arabian Sea and one on India’s east coast by the Bay of Bengal – though both for different events next year, are both equally important.