Auto-drivers oppose free bus service to pilgrims at Vemulawada temple shrine

K M Dayashankar

 

Devasthanam would be spending daily Rs 12,000 to provide free RTC bus service to pilgrims

Autos charge anywhere from Rs 30 to Rs 50 per head from pilgrims for travel a distance of 2 kilometers

Autos have become a nuisance at temple shrine with illegal and haphazard parking causing traffic snarls

Free bus service would benefit pilgrims visiting the shrine in RTC buses from various places

 

RAJANNA-SIRCILLA:  In a strange incident, the auto-rickshaw drivers belonging to the Vemulawada temple town have raised a banner of revolt against the operation of the free bus services to the pilgrims visiting the ancient temple shrine of Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy devasthanam in Vemulawada of Rajanna-Sircilla district.

Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy devasthanam authorities had been providing free bus services for the benefit of pilgrims in collaboration with the RTC authorities during the Mahashivarathri jatara for several years at the behest of Minister for IT and Municipal Administration K Taraka Rama Rao and local legislator Ch Ramesh Babu.

Following the successful operation of the free bus services during the Mahashivarathri festivities, the devasthanam had decided to operate free bus services every Friday, Sunday and Monday in collaboration with RTC authorities. Accordingly, Vemulawada municipal chairperson Ramatheerthapu Madhavi had formally flagged off the free bus services in front of the temple on Friday.

The free bus services on Friday, Sunday and Monday would be operated from early morning to late evenings for the benefit of pilgrims from the RTC bus stand to the temple shrine.  Irked over providing free bus services to the devotees, the local auto drivers have staged a dharna and even set fire to an autorickshaw in front of the RTC bus stand.

They demanded the devasthanam and RTC authorities to withdraw free bus service to devotees as it would eat into their business and deny employment around 2,000 drivers in the temple town. The autowallahs said that they were eking their livelihood by transporting pilgrims from bus stand to the temple shrine.

However, the temple authorities said that they had taken the decision to provide free bus service to the pilgrims visiting the shrine by reaching the temple town in RTC buses. The free bus service would be of immense help to the pilgrims as the auto-wallahs were fleecing the gullible devotees by charging exorbitantly at the rate of Rs 30 per head for a distance of 2 kilometers as they do not have any meters, they said. Sometimes, they (auto-wallahs) charge more than Rs 50 per head from the rural masses visiting the shrine.

Besides, the free bus service would also reduce traffic snarls at the temple shrine which were otherwise packed to the brim with illegal parking in the narrow roads at the shrine, they maintained. They said that they would continue the free bus service to the pilgrims visiting the temple shrine to regulate the traffic and nuisance by the autos in front of the temple.

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