TTD’s “travel time” norms a bane for pilgrims
Devotees planning a visit to the sacred hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara hereafter must be prepared for another litmus-test, which comes in the form of a restriction on the ‘travel time’ being imposed by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) for the vehicles to ply on the Tirumala ghat roads.
TTD with an intention to curtail the road accidents on the ghat roads has imposed restrictions with regard to the plying time of the vehicles. While the vehicles motoring up have to reach Tirumala not before 28 minutes, it is a minimum 40 minutes for those travelling down to Tirupati.
Even though the move is regarded as a welcome initiative, the intention with which it is introduced is being completely defeated, as the private taxi-drivers resort to tactics. Whether it is motoring up or down, the taxi drivers drive at their regular speed and reach near their destinations well before the stipulated time. So, to avoid unpleasantness with the TTD officials, they stop their vehicles a few hundred metres ahead of the destination to kill the time.
Meanwhile, the haste with which the proposal was grounded without taking into consideration the consequences nevertheless had added to the woes of the pilgrims.
Devotees are rather subjected to long waiting with the vehicles getting chocked-up both at Alipiri checking point in Tirupati and GNC toll gate at Tirumala. Whether it is for want of additional staff or call it a strict implementation of the limitation by the TTD staff, the devotees ultimately end-up marooned at both the points. Further adding to their woes, the devotees are rather forced to undergo the horrendous tribulations for the second time on their way back to their destinations in course of return journey from Tirumala. The constrained space limit at the GNC toll-gate (Tirumala) nevertheless exacerbates their miseries.
While so, it nonetheless remains an irritating experience for the devotees motoring down the ghat road. Even though the ghat road with its multiple curves is a beaten track for the APSRTC bus drivers they seldom give way to the vehicles following them from behind ultimately resulting in chaotic conditions at deep bends, which again is a cause of great concern? The situation remains appalling in the evening hours when the flow in the vehicular traffic is generally at its peak.
With majority of the trains making their departure in the evening hours most of the visiting pilgrims prefer reaching Tirupati in the late noon sessions. Under such circumstances how can any body expect the pilgrim parties, who have reserved their train tickets several months in advance move slow on the ghat roads and abide by the TTDs time limit.
Mr. Karthikeyan a business man from Chennai and a regular visitor to the hill temple, says it is unfortunate that the management is taking the interests of the devotees for a ride. Instead of resorting to primitive methods of regulation it could well have formulated steps to identify and weed out the out-dated vehicles plying on the ghat roads and periodically verify their insurance and fitness certificates, which would prove them more rewarding in achieving their goals.
Even the TTDs Vigilance and Security officials admitted that the management as well could have explored the feasibility of installing laser speed monitoring gadgets along with concealed cameras at various vantage points on the ghat roads to identify the over-speeding and erring drivers . About 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles reach Tirumala on an average day. When such is the enormity of the vehicular traffic, it is better that the TTD thinks more on the scientific lines rather than harp on temporary solutions.