The picturesque Araku valley, popularly known as "Ooty of Andhra Pradesh’, draws a large number of tourists not only from AP but also from West Bengal and other States of the country every year
Contrary to the assurances given to people’s representatives from time to time, the Waltair Division of East Coast Railway continues to get a raw deal be it in the allotment of rakes, provision of additional coaches, launch of new trains or even ‘regularisation’ of special trains that were already announced in the budget.
The picturesque Araku valley, popularly known as “Ooty of Andhra Pradesh’, draws a large number of tourists not only from AP but also from West Bengal and other States of the country every year. The former Railway Minister Mukul Roy had responded ‘positively’ when the Visakhapatnam Railway Zone Sadhana Samithi leaders met him in New Delhi more than a month ago and sought operation of an additional train to Araku to cater to the huge demand from tourists. The former Railway Minister had said that the East Coast Railway General Manager would be directed to meet Union Minister of State for HRD D. Purandeswari to discuss various problems of Waltair Division, according to Samithi convener J.V. Satyanarayana Murthy. He had even assured the Union HRD Minister that pending introduction of the new train to Araku, two additional tourist coaches could be attached to the existing train during the present tourist season.
There is a huge waiting list for the ‘Araku passenger’ (Visakhapatnam-Kirandul Passenger) ahead of the Dasara festival. The tourist rush continues till Pongal. The waiting list in the Sleeper Class starts with 49 on October 13 and peaks at 300 on October 22. There is no vacancy on all the days in October during the festival season and almost on all days in November and for 15 days in December. The First Class coach is also fully booked on almost all the days during the same period. There will hardly any space to sit or even stand in the general coaches during the tourist season.
With hardly two weeks to go for the tourist rush to begin, no arrangements seem to have been made to attach additional coaches as announced.
“We have sent the proposal to the Research and Development Wing in Lucknow for augmenting of additional coaches but we haven’t received any communication in this regard,” Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar said when the issue was brought to his notice. Those who have decided to visit Araku should better forget the breathtaking journey by train, passing through tunnels, and think of alternative plans.