Mulugu: The State government is focusing on improving the facilities including the basic amenities for the benefit of the pilgrims visiting Medaram Sammakka-Sarakka biennial Jatara, which is Asia’s biggest tribal congregation, to be held in the district. Unlike the past, the district administration is now focusing on creating permanent facilities rather than temporary arrangements as the footfall of the pilgrims is on the rise year by year.
As a part of it, the TRS government led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had released Rs 75 crore a fortnight ago for the arrangements. To know more about the progress in the arrangements at the Medaram temple, Telangana Today has spoken to District Collector S Krishna Aditya.
Q: The four-day Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara is scheduled to begin on February 16. Did you start the arrangements?
A: The district administration has already begun the exercise to execute the works as the government released Rs 75 crore. Roads and Buildings, Panchayat Raj, Rural Water Supply (RWS), Irrigation, and Revenue departments along with Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) at Eturngaram, are executing different civil and non-civil works. Since we want to conduct the biennial Jatara in a grand manner without causing any trouble, we are taking all steps for the convenience of the devotees.
Q: There is a criticism that the government is focusing only on makeshift arrangements rather than permanent ones. What is your reaction?
A: We are concentrating on both the stopgap and permanent asset creation. We have to make stopgap arrangements for the devotees’ sake. However, we are simultaneously creating permanent facilities (durable assets) like Over Head Reservoirs (OHR), dressing changing rooms, borewells, kitchen sheds, setting up the battery of taps, handpumps, drinking water taps, compound walls to the schools and colleges.
Q: It is said that you are going to demolish the check dam constructed across the Jammappanavagu (rivulet). What is the reason?
A: The government has decided to demolish the check-dams after considering the pleas from the public and experts who stated that the depth of the water (15 to 25 feet) in the stream is leading to deaths of the people while taking the holy dip. About 12 people lost their precious lives in the stream. Keeping this in view, we have decided to remove the structures. Rs 80 lakhs were allocated for this. On the other, we are taking up sand levelling works, construction of the staircase, infiltration tanks, and erection of the battery of taps along the 2 km stretch of the stream.
Q: Maintaining sanitary conditions at Medaram and surrounding villages is a major challenge during the jatara time. How are you going to deal with it?
A: We have analysed the problems faced during the previous jataras, and decided to set up 6,000 makeshift toilets and 200 permanent toilets in eight sectors. Rs 11 crore were allotted for these works and others were executed by the RWS.
Q: What are the other facilities being provided at the jatara?
A: Septic tanks, soaking pits, Sewerage Treatment Plants, kitchen sheds, renovation of the media viewpoint, flushing of the borewell, construction of the roads are also taken up for the benefit of the devotees. Moreover, we have allotted five to 10 additional sanitary workers for each GP within a radius of 17 km.
Q: Any measures to protect the people from contracting Covid-19?
A: We are going to vaccinate all the steps for two doses. We are going to set up vaccination drives at Laknvaram, Bogatha and Medaram. N-95 masks worth Rs 40 lakhs will be provided to the staff engaged in the jatara duties. We are providing the masks through the CSR funds.
Q: When will you complete all these works? What is the expected number of devotees during the jatara?
A: We are planning to finish the works by January 15, 2022. All the works are taken up through the tenders by duly following the prescribed norms. We have already designated special officers to regularly monitor the progress. I also assure you that there would not be any deviation or violation of the norms. We are anticipating that more than one crore people would participate in the jatara from the State and other states of India.
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