Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that Pandharpur will be transformed to provide better basic amenities for convenience of 12 lakh “warkaris” or pilgrims who visit the temple town annually.
Work on four-lane roads connecting Dehu-Alandi to Pandharpur followed by a river cleaning project has been taken up on a war footing. The state government has also planned a Rs 1,000-crore Namami Chandrabhaga project on the lines of the Namami Ganga project to clean the sacred river in Pandharpur which has the famous temple of Lord Vitthal on its bank.
The four-lane roads, which would be built by the union ministry of surface transport, would see the state government providing land for building spacious halls which would serve as restrooms for the pilgrims, he said. “The major concern relates to polluted river water. The installation of sewage treatment plant will ensure the river water and temple town remain clean.”
The mega Chandrabhaga Namami project beginning from Bhimashankar to Pandharpur along various districts of the state would be complete by 2022. The chief minister also promised an audit of all disaster management initiatives and have asked authorities to beef up emergency services like fire-fighting and first-aid measures in the religious places across Maharashtra.
Fadnavis said, “For the last several decades, we have annual pilgrims who visit the temple town on foot. However, our biggest concern till date relates to toilets. This year the government provided 20,000 mobile toilets for the pilgrims as devotees across the state throng the temple town for 40 days this season.”
The toilet project called “nirmal wari” was an initiative taken by the state government to bring more cleanliness and also facilitate the use of toilets to the pilgrims who cover several hundred kilometres during their 40-45-day pilgrimage.
Earlier, several politicans across party lines expressed concerns related the inconvenience caused to pilgrims because of space constraints, polluted river, overcrowding and absence of restrooms.
Earlier, the NCP’s Ajit Pawar had demanded restrooms for the pilgrims and Pranati Shinde pointed to the lack of healthcare and quick response system at the pilgrimage centres.