VIJAYAWADA: Despite Krishna district administration’s tall claims of taking steps to curb begging near the crowded bathing ghats, the meance continues under the very nose of the authorities. The bathing ghats have a lot of beggars pestering the pilgrims.
The beggars have refused the compensation offered by the authorities as they feel that they can earn more than what the authorities are offering. The beggar menace is very severe at the ghats in Vijayawada and Amaravati.
According to the official estimates, nearly 15,000 beggars are on the prowl in Vijayawada city alone and the authorities offered them Rs 5000 to compensate their income during the 12-day fete. The beggars felt the amount is too small and rejected it.
Majority of the beggars in the city had rejected the proposal because Pushkaralu attracts pilgrims from across the country and they offer money to these beggars. Taking an advantage with consecutive holidays, scores of pilgrims made a beeline to Vijayawada city to have holy dip in river Krishna. The beggars - old, young, children and women - are seen in every nook and corner of the city. They are there at the busy Canal Road, Durga Ghat and the streets of One Town seeking alms from pilgrims. The menace is severe at the bathing ghats in Amaravati, Dharani Kota and Dhyana Buddha ghats in Guntur district..
“Offering cash or kind to the beggars during Krishna Pushkarams is a tradition. But, the beggars are pestering for money only,” said K Nagamani of Kovvur in West Godavari district. Some beggars are reacting violently if the pilgrims refuse to pay.
“We get upto `500 through begging, while what we get at the shelter homes is peanuts. We don’t want to sleep in the shelters,” said a beggar.
Admitting that the menace of beggars was real, Krishna District Collector Babu A said that despite repeated attempts to prevent them from begging in the city during river festival, most of them have come back.