MULUGU: With all arrangements in place the stage is set for Sammakka-Saralamma jatara, touted as Asia's biggest tribal fair, which began in Telangana's Mulugu district on Wednesday.
About 1.5 crore devotees from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and other states are expected to attend the four-day festivities at Medaram in Eturangaram wildlife sanctuary.
Authorities have made unprecedented arrangements for the convenience of devotees attending the jatra at Madaram, about 240 km from Hyderabad. Thousands of devotees have already reached Medaram for the mega event, often described as as Telangana's Kumbh mela.
State Governor Tamilsai Soundararajan and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao are expected to visit the congregation on February 7.
The biennial festival attracts devotees, mostly tribals from all over the country. The unique rituals include offering jaggery to the two Goddesses Sammakka and Sarakka, also called as Saralamma.
This year the state government sanctioned Rs 75 crore to take up various works for the smooth conduct of the rituals. Various departments have undertaken works to provide necessary facilities for the devotees. These include sprucing up bathing ghats along Jampanna Vagu. As many as 132 dress changing compartments were constructed across 3.5 km stretch. Mulugu District Collector Vasam Venkateshwarlu said the tribal welfare department built three permanent sheds for the accommodation of pilgrims and erected 229 solar street lights.
The authorities have also constructed 8,400 makeshift toilets, provided 538 battery operated taps and one dormitory building for the maintenance of drinking water facilities.
The district authorities have also hired 3450 sanitary workers and engaged 40 tractors with trollies for dumping the waste.
As many as 12,000 policemen have been deployed as part of the elaborate security arrangements. Police department has set up three main camps and 23 mini main camps. Officials said 300 CCTV Cameras and three drone cameras were deployed. Fire Department has set up Command Control Centre to monitor the area with 10 fire tenders, mist Jeeps, 20 mist bullet vehicles for firefighting.
With an aim to make the event plastic free, the district administration has free distribution of 45,000 cloth bags sponsored by few companies and NGOs. State-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) is plying 4,000 buses to ferry devotees to Medaram from various places in the state. The transport body has built a makeshift bus station on 40 acre land at Medaram.
The South Central Railway is also operating 20 special trains from Hyderabad and other places in Telangana to clear the extra rush of passengers. The Telangana Tourism Department has also launched helicopter services from Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad to the jatara. Devotees will have to pay Rs 1.80 lakh for hiring the helicopter. The officials said those who want to have an aerial view of the jatara can also avail of the helicopter service at Rs 2,999. (IANS)
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