RAJAHMUNDRY: Supervision by top civil servants notwithstanding, the woes of pilgrims visiting the bathing ghats in East and West Godavari districts are far from over. Besides accommodation, travel is proving to be a herculean task for the pilgrims due to lack of a proper system for information dissemination. The temporary arrangements made by the officials to ease the problems are further turning the journey a tiresome affair.
After suffering severe damage to its image due to the death of 27 persons in the stampede on Tuesday, the first day of the Godavari Maha Pushkarams, the state government is taking no chances to ensure that people are not put to further problems.
The state officials requested the railway to operate additional trains for the Maha Pushkarams following which over 75 special trains are being operated by the railways everyday. Further, many trains passing through Rajahmundry are being made to make additional halts at Godavari and Kovvuru stations.
“With more trains running on the same tracks, the journey is proving to be tiresome,” said VR Hanumanthu from Srikakulam. The Rajahmundry station has three platforms and an additional two tracks which were earlier used for goods trains are being used to accommodate more trains. However, the passengers, particularly women and elderly, are finding it difficult to board the trains due to absence of platforms. “We know the difficulties but we have no option as this is the only way to ease the rush,” said a railway official.
At the Rajahmundry bus station, APSRTC managing director N Sambasiva Rao himself is supervising the bus traffic and deploying additional services to clear the rush. But people are finding it difficult to plan their journey as the timings of majority of the buses have been changed and the buses are being run in different directions based on the passenger rush. “We are running special buses towards areas where the demand is more. On Thursday, there was huge demand for buses towards Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam. Hence, we pressed as many buses as possible in this direction by cancelling all scheduled services,” said an RTC employee at the inquiry counter.
Adding to the woes, the RTC is running the JNNURM-sanctioned city buses and ordinary buses to faraway places like Srikakulam, Tirupati and Nellore. Further, all reservation services to and away from Rajahmundry have been kept at abeyance and passengers have no option for advanced booking of tickets.
“We know they have deployed many buses here but a majority of them are ordinary and city buses. When we are willing to pay, why cannot the government run better buses. Though the government announced that no additional fare will be collected in the buses, it is not being practiced by the conductors/drivers who are claiming that they have oral instructions to that effect,” said Nilanjan Kumar from Vijayawada.
Adding to the woes, the free bus services within Rajahmundry and Kovvuru are not serving the purpose. Though the buses are being found exiting the RTC bus stand in full capacity, the devotees complained that they could not see any free services on the city roads while returning to the railway station and the bus station.