ANDHRA PRADESH

TTD to widen its info network

TIRUPATI Nov. 13. The management of the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is gearing itself to widen its information network to cater to the needs of the pilgrims thronging the hill temple daily. It is estimated that on an average about 40,000 pilgrims on week days and 80,000 plus at week-ends and on festive occasion visit the temple daily.

With a view to providing pilgrims all required information preferably at their own destinations before they set out on the pilgrimage, the TTD's Executive Officer on Wednesday convened a meeting with State's senior officials and those from the Railways, Transport and Tourism departments and allied wings including representatives from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The exercise was to enlist the support of the departments in widening the TTD's information network and provide the pilgrims all details like various sevas available at the temple and their timings and tariff, accommodation and donation schemes.

The meeting identified about 20 areas where the TTD and other non-TTD departments including those outside the State could interact and guide the pilgrims. Broad consensus was reached at the meeting on nearly a dozen subjects while the rest, needing approval of higher-ups, were kept in abeyance and were likely to be addressed at the next sitting.

As nearly 42% of the pilgrims visiting Tirumala are from AP, 37% from Tamil Nadu, 14% from Karnataka and the rest from the rest of the country, it was agreed that the TTD and the Tourism departments of these states have a more crucial role to play in the interactive task. As a first step in the direction, the Tamil Nadu Commissioner of Tourism, C.P. Singh, who attended the meeting, agreed to keep at the disposal of the TTD the State's tourist information centres located in 29 districts in that staste besides in major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata so that the TTD could display there all its brochures, publicity material, hand-bills etc and cater to their needs. The representative from Karnataka also agreed to a similar arrangement at all the 20 centres spread over the State.

The EO also put forth a proposal to the Railways that the audio-cassettes on Venkateswara Suprabhatham be played on board trains bound for Tirupati an hour before they reached the destination to put the pilgrims in a devotional mode. Useful information needed for the pilgrims could be announced on board, it was suggested. The Railways's Liason Officer, Seshagiri Rao, who participated in the meet, promised to convey these views to higher-ups and get a positive reply. Similar assurances were drawn from the RTC and private operators as well. It is said that as many as 14 trains comprising nearly 520 bogies were touching Tirupati daily and the proposal could be tried on an experimental basis at least on the Narayanadri, Garudadri, Saptagiri and Tirumala express trains.

The TTD also struck a deal with the Srikalahasti and the Kanipakkam temple managements to mutually display their publicity materials. The TTD agreed to make its Information Centre at Chennai (T.Nagar) available for these temples to keep their brochures for the benefit of the visiting pilgrims.

Among the participants were the Tirupati Municipal Chairman, K.Sankar Reddy, and the Vice-Chairman of the TUDA, D. Karunchandrababu.

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