Sunday, 1 September 2013

This strike even affects God

The ongoing (disturbed) political situation in Andhra Pradesh seems to have not only led to an upheaval in the lives of  people there but it has also affected the Gods living in the State. Andhra Pradesh is in turmoil and the Samaikyandhra agitation by the people is against the decision of the Congress led UPA Government at the Centre to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
Vehicles going to and coming from Tirupathi has come down alarmingly and though there are no major incidents of arson or disturbances, road and rail services have been hit.
This has resulted in a drop in the number of pilgrims visiting Tirupathi. There is today less queue at Tirupathi and the waiting times has slashed considerably. Even free darshan is available without much ado.
Generally, people have to wait anywhere from twelve to fifteen hours for a darshan of Srinaivasa or Balaji. Now, the wait is just a few hours and almost all seves are easily available and all entry posts less crowded.
Rooms and hotels are less crowded in the temple town and tickets for various seves are more easily available. The daily hundi  or offering box collection at the temple has reduced. The hundi collections during the last month was much less than the normal Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.6 crore a day in cash donation.
Nowadays, the hundi collection is anywhere between Rs. 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The collection on weekends has also seen a drop and it stands at Rs 1.6 crore to Rs. 2 crore a day and this is a fairly drastic fall from about Rs. 2 crore to Rs.2.5 crore reported or rather counted every day.
The daily offerings of gold, silver and other precious items such as diamonds has also seen a decrease though they are yet to be enumerated. The TTD has a system of  counting the cash collection on a daily basis. The calculation of the non-cash items happens once in three months or at the TTD’s convenience and these include gold, jewellery, diamond and other articles .
One of the main reasons for the drop in arrivals at Tirupathi is the decision of employees of Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation to go on strike against the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh, which was first announced in July-end. The strike has affected bus services to the temple town and pilgrims and visitor numbers have fallen from 60,000 to 70,000 persons a day to 40,000 a day. In an year, the annual footfalls is anywhere between 2.5 crores to 3 crores.
However, people still continue to visit the pilgrim town as more than 50 per dent of the visitors are those who use private vehicles, mainly cars, tempos and private buses.  
TTD figures show that 60 per cent of the pilgrims who view Srinivasa avail free darshan facility with 16 per cent opting for the Rs 50 Sudarshan token. Pilgrims of Rs 300 Pratyeka Pravesha (special entry) darshan stand third at 13 per cent. Apart from them, there are seven lakh seva ticket holders, 7.5 lakh physically challenged persons and four lakh parents of infants, besides seven lakh VIP Break darshan ticket holders and they constitute the remaining 3 per cent.
All these people have to view the Lord in a day between 19 to 20 hours and on some days it falls to 14 hours on account of special rituals and sevas.
Incidentally, last Friday, Tirupati reverberated with slogans of  Jai Samaikhyandhra as more than 10,000 employees of TTD took out a massive rally. This is the first time in the 80-year-old history of the TTD that 5,000 of its employees went on mass leave and the rest joined in the protests. Besides, students and faculty members of various TTD-run educational institutions also took part in the rally.
However, the TTD has come to the rescue of pilgrims visiting Tirumala. It has pressed into service its own fleet of Dharma Ratham buses to ferry pilgrims from the Tirupati railway station to Alipiri, the foot of Tirumala hills.
When hotels and eateries remained closed for two days during the strike call, the TTD arranged breakfast and lunch for the visitors alighting at the railway station and also at Alipiri. The TTD provided upma, sambar rice and curd rice to 45,000 persons and served milk to 16,000 visitors on Friday last.
Chief Vigilance and Security Officer G.V.G. Ashok Kumar was seen personally serving milk to the devotees who climbed the hill on foot.
The TTD operated 500 trips with the 16 buses between the two points in the city, transporting 35,000 passengers.
However, the strike has not affected Mantralaya as it borders Karnataka and many people go to the temple town from Raichur side.

1 comment:

  1. Ramesh,
    We should have an easy trip to Tirupathi next month, right? Will we be able to even go?