All pilgrims undertaking ‘padayatra’ to the hill shrine to get free laddus

With protests against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh set to intensify, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which is preparing to conduct the nine-day Bramhotsavam celebrations commencing Saturday (October 5), has brought the hill shrine under Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance.

At least 4,000 police personnel would be deployed as part of the elaborate security arrangements, N. Kanniah, Member, TTD Board of Trustees, said on Thursday.

As talks with the agitating Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation workers unions have not yielded the desired results, the TTD authorities expected operation of about 100 buses between Alipiri and Tirumala during Bramhotsavam. Efforts were on to persuade the striking transport workers to restore normal operations to Tirumala. APSRTC operates 350 services between Alipiri and Tirupati which came down to 60 following agitations against Telangana.

Southern Railway had augmented additional coaches in the Chennai Central-Tirupati-Chennai Central Sapthagiri Express and Chennai Egmore-Kacheguda-Chennai Egmore Express trains to clear the extra rush of devotees, he said. A special Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) would be operated between Chennai and Tirupati.

In view of the ongoing agitations in support of ‘Samaikya Andhra’, private bus operators could not be roped in. “There is no restriction on cars, jeeps and 12-seater vans visiting Tirumala. Private vehicles with more than 12 seats would not be allowed.”

Dr. Kanniah said the TTD board at a late night meeting on Wednesday approved a proposal to give free laddus to all pilgrims undertaking ‘padayatra’ to reach the hill shrine.

“About 30,000 padayatris are expected to visit Tirumala per day during the festival and we have decided to give one laddu costing Rs. 25 free. Adequate medical, drinking water, toilet and accommodation facilities are in place,” he told The Hindu here.

Control room

The TTD would establish a 24/7 control room to assist devotees in terms of crowd management, helping in tracing missing persons and emergency aid. CCTV footage would be monitored in coordination with the State police.

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