TIRUMALA, SEPTEMBER 07, 2023: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Chairman Bhumana Karunakara Reddy along with the TTD EO AV Dharma Reddy on Wednesday evening launched the programme of distributing hand sticks to devotees on trekking on footpaths at Alipiri Padala Mandapam as part of an exercise to give them self-confidence against wild beasts attacks, etc, if any.
Speaking to media on the occasion the TTD Chairman said that it was scientifically proven and since times immemorial the practice of carrying sticks while crossing dense woods or during hunting expeditions as a protective measure to scare wild animals with hand sticks and the provision was not aimed at fighting the wild animals. He said devotees were sent in groups on footpaths with security guards and police personnel were also stationed at frequent distances and wild animal-prone Zones on the route. The TTD efforts to contain the wild animal attack threat had yielded results with the trapping of four leopards.
The hand sticks will be taken back from devotees after they reach Sri Narasimha Swami temple and will be supplied to devotees on a rotation basis. He also left it to the wisdom of critics on the hand sticks exercise to find fault with TTD enterprise in the safety of Srivari devotees.
TTD EO AV Dharma Reddy said several safety initiatives were rolled out by TTD after the June 22 incident at the 7th mile and August 11 at the Sri Narasimha Swami temple areas. Among them was the installation of 500 CC Camera traps to identify the movement of wild animals and their capture besides driving wild animals into deep forests from the footpaths, stoppage of sale of fruits and vegetables offered as feed to friendly animals like deer, monkeys, etc as a step to stop wild animals approaching footpaths for sake of animals
He said movement of wildlife was identified near Shila Thoranam and the 7th mile on Alipiri footpath. In view of the above, devotees in groups of 100 are advised to move on the footpath along with security personnel, chanting Govinda Nama. The devotees are also informed of being cautious about wildlife activity every five minutes through the broadcasting system. The forest department has also recruited 100 staff to watch the safety of devotees on the routes.
The TTD EO said currently devotees with below 12 years old children are allowed to trek on footpaths till 2 pm in the afternoon. Two-wheelers are also allowed on Ghat Road from morning 6.00 a.m. to evening 6.00 p.m. The TTD has also sent proposals with designs to the Wildlife Institute of India and Union Forest Ministry for the construction of steel fencing in the Alipiri footpath route which falls in the reserved forest zone.
He said only 10,000 handsticks were prepared at a cost of ₹45,000 and the exercise is not aimed at any destruction of forest wood at all. TTD JEO Veerabrahmam, CVSO Narasimha Kishore, CEO SVBC Shanmukh Kumar, SE-2 Jagadeeshwar Reddy, Dy CF of TTD Srinivasulu, Tirupati DFO Satish were also present.