Grand finale to Godavari Pushkarams

HYDERABAD AUG. 10. The mega religious event, the Godavari Pushkarams, ended today with an unprecedented 5.98 crore people taking part in the 12-day river festival conducted across seven districts of the State.

The State administration, which strained every nerve to make it a grand success, heaved a sigh of relief with the spiritual event passing off without any hiccup. The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, who flew to Rajahmundry on the concluding day, described the unprecedented turnout of the devout for a holy dip as an indication of growing spirituality among people and added that this rivalled the Kumbh Mela.

Addressing pilgrims at Narsapur and Rajahmundry, Mr. Naidu said, " history was created...the unprecedented turnout and the discipline shown by the people was inspiring and an indication of the positive thinking. "He said that the State Government spent Rs. 172 crores for the conduct of the Pushkarams and expressed delight that about 95 per cent of people, who took part in the river festival, had expressed satisfaction over the arrangements. He also visited the Gowthami ghat at Rajahmundry and unveiled the statue of sage Gowthama on the banks of the Godavari.

Later talking to reporters, the Chief Minister said many temples were given a facelift in view of the Pushkarams and these places would be developed into tourist centres by improving the amenities. He announced that officials who had toiled hard and rendered excellent service would be suitably rewarded.

The Chief Minister also lauded the services rendered by voluntary organisations and made a special mention of construction of the bund on the side of the Godavari at Pushkar ghat for a stretch of about 3 km at the cost of Rs. 1.8 crores.

The highest number of 2.21 crore pilgrims was reported from East Godavari, followed by 1.27 crore from West Godavari, 75 lakh at Karimnagar, 71.38 lakh at Adilabad, 54.17 lakh at Khammam, 46.42 lakh at Nizamabad and 1.79 lakh at Warangal Districts respectively.

According to an official release, as many as 3,10,232 pilgrims were given medical assistance during the Pushkarams. The APSRCT had transported 66.24 lakh pilgrims by operating 27,828 buses. The Department of Tourism had organised cultural events during the festival at Basar, Dharmapuri, Kaleswaram, Rajahmundry, Bhadrachalam and Draksharamam.

The Chief Secretary, Mohan Kanda, who reviewed the arrangements through a teleconference on the concluding day, said the dedicated effort of 2.3-lakh Government employees had made the festival a resounding success. He appreciated the efforts of police officials.