A marked difference is being witnessed on arrangements for civic amenities during Vaikunta Ekadasi festival in Srirangam this year with a large number of sanitary workers from the civic body and the temple having been pressed into service. Every opportunity has been best utilised for ensuring cleanliness. For example on entering the Ammamandapam Road from Mambazha Salai, a makeshift barricade proclaims Srirangam as a plastic-free zone sensitising devotees to the need for avoiding plastics.

Residents hail the services being rendered by the sanitary workers. “We see a difference this year. The strength of sanitary workers has been increased and the garbage is cleared then and there,” says Parasara Lakshmi Narasimha Bhattar, a resident and Vedic pandit.

Endorsing his view, Sthanikam Narasimhan, another resident, says that the disposal of garbage has been prompt, both outside and inside the temple.

Referring to the extended duration of the ‘annadhanam’ scheme they say that the clearing of plantain leaves and other garbage from the ‘annadhanam’ area is quite timely. They appreciated the restriction of entry for devotees through Renga Renga gopuram or the north gate – introduced for the first time this year.

Apart from ensuring security, it will avoid congestion, thereby paving the way for additional safety and more hygienic environment for the pilgrims. The entire Srirangam area has been divided into a number of segments, each being monitored by a sanitary supervisor and a sanitary inspector. About 15 sanitary workers are being drafted for duty for every shift of eight hours. “The walkie-talkie has come in handy for us to interact among ourselves and to meet any emergency sanitary assistance,” they say.

V.P. Thandapani, Corporation Commissioner, has been visiting the area periodically ensuring prompt clearance of garbage and advising improvements, wherever needed. The focus is on Ammamandapam bathing ghat where a large number of devotees gather for performing family rituals.

Workers from the temple have been coordinating the sanitary programme. “We collect plantain leaves and other waste materials, and deposit them in a big bin kept on Ammamandapam campus. Corporation sanitary workers clear it once a few hours,” say sanitary workers Annapoorani and Silambayi at Ammamandapam.

M. Tiruvenkadam Yadav, coordinator of Tiruvarangam Nagar Nala Sangam, says that the sanitary services in Srirangam are similar to those available in Tirumala. He referred to the manual clearing of sand on several sectors, particularly in Ammamandapam–Rajagopuram sector.