RAHUL BOJJA, the District Collector of Warangal, said the Medaram Jatara was one of the biggest human congregations in the country and no amount of preparation would seem adequate. According to him, the number of pilgrims could touch 60 lakh as there has been a steady increase in the number of people for one month before the actual jatara. On normal days, over 20,000 visited Medaram, on Sundays the village had one lakh visitors. On any given day, there will be over 10 lakh people camping in the forest for about a week while an equal number are in transit, he told Frontline.
The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) is operating 3,160 buses from various parts of the State. From February 4 to February 12, it will operate 41,000 trips to cover the 110-km distance from Warangal to Medaram, expecting to transport about 11 lakh pilgrims.
We are erecting 9,000 temporary toilets, setting up over 400 handpumps, constructing innumerable cisterns, erecting a battery of taps at every visible corner all over the forest in a five-kilometre area, Rahul Bojja said. About 900 sanitation personnel are to be engaged for the clean-up work after the jatara. This time the State government has sanctioned Rs.60 crore. For the first time, the district administration is laying a permanent helipad at a cost of Rs.36 lakh adjacent to the altar for VIP visits, the collector explained.
The funds made available for the jatara helped the district administration develop all the internal roads and some main roads, including the national highway from Warangal to Eturunagaram. The cart tracks in hamlets surrounding the village were paved to make it easier for devotees. Nearly half of the budget sanctioned by the government was earmarked for repair of existing roads and laying new roads in this agency mandal.
Over 50,000 employees of various government departments are involved in the arrangements for the jatara. The police department is deploying 9,000 personnel, including the superintendent of police, while the APSRTC is mobilising 10,000 personnel; the health department has set up a temporary 50-bed hospital and mobilising 40 specialists, 100 medical officers and 500 paramedical staff. Virtually every department has a role here. Revenue, Endowments, Rural Water Supply, Panchayat Raj, Transport, Fisheries, among others, the Collector said.Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao