Tirumala pilgrims stranded in Tirupati
As the APSRTC employees did not spare even the services to Tirumala when they went on strike from Monday midnight, pilgrims suffered a lot to reach the hill shrine on Tuesday. They faced hardship to reach the Alipiri tollgate, as there were no buses at the railway station and no transport facility was available here. With many constraints, they managed to come to the Alipiri tollgate by foot, but were depressed with lack of transport to go up the hills.
- RTC fails to operate services to Tirumala after 38 years
- Devotees blast TTD for failing to make alternative arrangements
- TTD staff forced to use lorries, tractors to reach hills
- Steep fall in passengers using buses in 15 days
Tirupati: As the APSRTC employees did not spare even the services to Tirumala when they went on strike from Monday midnight, pilgrims suffered a lot to reach the hill shrine on Tuesday. They faced hardship to reach the Alipiri tollgate, as there were no buses at the railway station and no transport facility was available here. With many constraints, they managed to come to the Alipiri tollgate by foot, but were depressed with lack of transport to go up the hills.
After a gap of 38 years RTC failed to operate services to Tirumala since the commencement of the strike. When C Anna Rao was executive officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams in 1975 the transport department had invited the APSRTC to operate buses between Tirumala and Tirupati. This was strongly opposed by drivers/workers of the Transport department and the services were stopped.
Taking advantage of the RTC strike, private jeep operators collected higher fare from pilgrims on Tuesday. As there was no alternative, they were forced to pay more. Devotees, particularly those with children and more luggages were upset with the strike. They blamed the TTD for failing to make alternate arrangements.
The RTC operates about 475 buses everyday to ferry 90,000 persons on ordinary days and more than 1.1 lakh at the week-end. Each bus makes six trips. During the last two weeks the number of pilgrims travelling in buses fell significantly to 26,000 on a day. A pilgrim of Visakhapatnam, C. Shravani, said she had planned the Tirumala tour three months back and
availed of online reservation for the ‘darshan.
Buy after reaching Tirupati by train she had faced hardship in reaching Alipiri from the railway station with children and baggage. ‘Jeep operators and auto drivers are demanding almost four times the normal fare’, she said. Another pilgrim, G Srinivasa Rao, of Guntur said the TTD should have made alternate arrangements for the pilgrims or checked jeep operators from collecting high fare. ‘Is it not the duty of TTD vigilance department to check the fleecing of passengers by private operators’, he asked.
A blessing in disguise for those atop hill
Get ‘darshan’ for longer duration
Tirupati: Strike by the APSRTC employees since the midnight of Monday has come as a blessing for the devotees managing to reach the hill shrine by other means of transport. They were able to have the Lord’s ‘Laghu’ darshan for a longer duration on Tuesday without the usual use of force by the TTD security and police to make way for others waiting in serpentine queues. There was a huge fall in the number of pilgrims reaching the hill shrine. Only 10,876 persons managed reach Tirumala by foot from 4 a m to 6 p m on Tuesday.
The ‘Sarva’ darshan took about two hours. Those availing of the Special and Divya ‘darshan’ were able see the Lord in an hour’s time. Devotees expressed happiness that they have been able to see the presiding deity, Venkateswara, and his consort to their heart’s content. The queues themselves were missing.