Jammu: Thousands of devotees from across India visit the scenic Paddar valley every year for the famous Machail Yatra but ironically a dozen remote villages here are reeling under darkness as there is no electricity supply.
The residents of nearly a dozen villages along the 30-km arduous track to the shrine at Machail village are waiting in the hope to get the promised electricity connections during this year’s yatra, which is scheduled to commence today.
Paddar, famous for its sapphire, has also come on the religious tourism map of the state as each year the rush of pilgrims joining 43-day Machail Yatra is increasing, prompting the local administration to make necessary arrangements for the pilgrims to ensure their safe and trouble free pilgrimage.
Police and security forces have already taken positions along the yatra track, while ‘Sarv Shakti Sewak Sanstha’, the official organisation of Machail Yatra Management, has set up free community kitchens at various places along the route for the pilgrims.
“The Power Development Department is working overtime to ensure electricity to Machail and adjoining villages. We have planned to electrify the villages by July 25 with the commencement of the yatra but due to some technical problems, it did not happen and most probably it would be done by week end,” District Development Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana told PTI.
He said the district administration had made all arrangements for the pilgrimage and the heli-service to the shrine is also likely to start from today.
Ram lal, a local resident of Machail village, said, “The administration used to light up the yatra route and the shrine area with its own generators during the pilgrimage. But no attempt was made by the government to electrify the area given its religious importance.”
He said a single electricity line would benefit hundreds of families here.
Babu Ram, another villager, said he is happy that his village would be electrified after over seven decades of India’s Independence.
Last year, about three lakh pilgrims visited the shrine.
“The shrine is open to devotees round-the-year but due to heavy snowfall during winter it remains cut-off from the mainland,” Ram said.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Sanjeev Verma launched the website of historical Shri Chandi Mata Ji Machail Yatra here on Monday.
According to the management committee, the website has been launched with a motive to provide all the information related to the yatra and its history.
“It includes all the important information which will be very helpful to all those pilgrims who are planning to visit Machail village for ‘darshan’, an official spokesperson said.