MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, June 24 - Even though the Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) claimed that it had carried out intense promotional activities outside the State to attract devotees to the Ambubachi Mela, the truth is that all those efforts went futile.
“The gathering on Nilachal Hill as part of the Mela this year is much less in comparison to last year. Earlier we had hoped that the footfall of devotees would cross the record of last year. But this year, the number may stay below last year’s record,” said Chandan Kumar Sarma, an office-bearer of the Ambubachi Mela Management Committee.
It is noteworthy that the ATDC and the State tourism department are responsible for publicity of the event by erecting hoarding, banners etc., along with decoration of the Kamakhya Temple premises and approach roads with ornamental lights during the Mela days, besides arrangement of cultural events, publication of information booklets and setting up of help desks at railway stations, airport and other necessary places.
At a press meet prior to the mega event, ATDC Chairman Jayanta Malla Barua had said, “As per previous records, most of the devotees come from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. So we have already started promotional activities in those states through radio jingles, advertisements in regional TV channel, etc. Promotional hoardings were also installed at the Kolkata and New Delhi airports.”
He had also stated that the ATDC was expecting an increase in footfall of devotees by 20 per cent in comparison to last year. In 2018, more than 20 lakh devotees visited the Mela, whereas this time the number could cross the 25 lakh mark, he had said.
Officials of the Assam Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (AMTRON) informed that till this evening around 5 lakh head count had been recorded in its system set up at the entry point of Nilachal Hill.
Meanwhile, in the last three days of the Ambubachi Mela, massive violation of rules formulated by the Kamrup (Metro) district administration to restrict distribution of food items on the roadside, came to light.
Prior to the Mela Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metro) Biswajeet Pegu had clearly stated that his office was taking special steps to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in the city during the Ambubachi Mela and would impose a total restriction on distribution of food outside the dining hall of the bhandaras.
Pegu had also asserted that no temporary stall to distribute food items would be allowed along the road to the Kamakhya Temple from Bharalumukh and from the Kamakhya Gate to Maligaon where officials of the district food safety department would constantly monitor all foodstuffs prepared and served during the Mela days. Restrictions would also be imposed on distribution of fruit items prepared outside a bhandara, plastic plates, cups and spoons. But in reality no implementation of those rules came was noticed in and around the Nilachal Hill.
Moreover, due to lack of adequate number of dustbins, roadside dumping of plastic glasses and plates made the environment dirty in the last three days. But Guwahati Municipal Corporation Commissioner Debeswar Malakar had announced placing of around 100 dustbins in the city.