VIJAYAWADA: Free distribution of food and water supplied by voluntary organisations and philanthropists in makeshift tents in the Pushkar Nagars and main stretches in Vijayawada city was a blessing for many pilgrims. However, the free food is being wasted by some pilgrims leaving others hungry.
Owing to a heavy rush during Krishna Pushkaralu, around 55 voluntary organisations and philanthropists have set up stalls in the 20 Pushkar Nagars to feed the pilgrims. Vegetable biryani, lemon rice, curd rice, tomato rice and sambar rice are being offered to the pilgrims at many makeshift tents. In the wake of consecutive holidays during the weekend, voluntary organisations made elaborate arrangements to feed as many as pilgrims they can.
But the situation was different at many Pushkar Nagars as many dumper bins were seen filled with the excess food thrown away by the pilgrims. Pilgrims who arrived late at the Pushkar Nagars, were forced to return with empty stomachs as the food packets were exhausted.
Karanam Jogayya, pilgrim from Lakkavarapu Kota in Vizianagaram district, expressed his dissatisfaction over the officials for their failure in monitoring the food supply near the Pushkar Nagars. “I can’t afford the food at roadside eateries which were being sold out at an exorbitant prices. The voluntary organisations should not confine themselves to particular area, they should spread their activity to other places to feed the hungry,” he said.
Most of the pilgrims at Pushkar Nagar near Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS) and city railway station had bitter experience and left the place with hunger. “We have prepared estimations to supply lemon rice and sambar rice for 30,000 pilgrims per day,” said D Chalapathi Rao, an NGO volunteer at PNBS.
From Day One of Krishna Pushkarams, Chalapathi Rao said that they have noticed that most of the pilgrims were taking excess food as a precautionary measure but throwing it away after all of them ate. “To reduce wastage, we deployed additional volunteers near the queue lines to control the food wastage. Every pilgrim should feel responsible and extend their support in controlling the food wastage,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, the roadside eateries and hotels dotting the main stretches increased the rates of eatables and were fleecing the pilgrims. Pilgrims complained that the roadside eateries and hotels were charging anywhere around `10-20 per dish in excess of the prices mentioned in the menu. If opposed, many hotel staff were asking the pilgrims to leave. “Some hotels have adopted a clever tactic. Though prices were not changed, they have reduced the quantity per each dish,” said Raghavendra, a kirana shop owner.