Development surge

Print edition : September 21, 2007

Workers engaged in grouting work on the ghat road.-K.V. POORNACHANDRA KUMAR

The TTD enjoys absolute ownership of the entire land available on the hills and has, as such, focussed its energies on development activities.

Workers engaged in

THE beginning of the 21st century has opened a new chapter in the history of Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams with the administration focussing on various developmental activities to augment amenities for pilgrims. Although the TTD had undertaken massive developmental works earlier, the initiatives made in the past few years have won the administration accolades. The fact that the TTD has spent over Rs.500 crore in the past seven years alone to carry out developmental works at both Tirumala and Tirupati speaks volumes about its resolve to meet all the basic needs of pilgrims.

The major factor that has contributed to the surge in developmental activities is the successful implementation of the Land Acquisition Act and acquisition of all private properties in Tirumala. The TTD, which was involved in a fierce legal battle with private property owners for more than three decades, was able to complete the acquisition process, especially of private lands in the four mada streets around the shrine, only in 2004. It is here that P. Balasubramanya m, an Indian Administrative Service officer, who served as the TTDs Tirumala-based joint executive officer for more than nine years, deserves praise. He is seen as the chief architect of the newly shaped Tirumala town.

The acquisition of private land enabled the TTD to accelerate the implementation of its long-pending master plan, conceived with the twin objectives of decongesting the pilgrim-choked surroundings of the temple and augmenting security in the context of the deteriorating security atmosphere in the country. As part of the implementation of the master plan, the management took up the task of constructing the massive maha prakaram (ambulatory) at a budget outlay of Rs.70 crore and the widening of the mada streets at a cost of over Rs.5 crore. In the process, it had to demolish the centuries-old Thousand-pillar Mandapam located in front of the main temple complex.

Another remarkable development work being carried out in the area acquired by the TTD is the installation of the laddu conveyor belt system in the northwestern corner of the main temple. This is aimed at facilitating easy passage of pilgrims through the mahadwaram (main entrance). At present the laddus are carried in stainless steel trays through the main entrance to the various laddu sale counters situated outside, and this sp ot has become a bottleneck as pilgrims use the same passage to enter the temple. The mechanised conveyor belt, which is expected to be commissioned soon, will help hassle-free transportation of about 36,000 laddus an hour to the coun ters. At present over 1.2 lakh laddus are sold every day.

With the availability of sufficient vacant land around the temple complex, the management has now shifted its attention to the construction of multi-storied guest houses and pilgrim amenities complexes (PACs) to meet the needs of the growing pilgrim influx. The TTD has over 6,000-odd units of accommodation besides three massive PACs at Tirumala, which can meet the needs of 40,000 to 45,000 pilgrims every day. The TTD had also constructed the multi-storied Srinivasam guest house in Tirupati with 660 individual units of accommodation at a whopping cost of Rs.33 crore. The construction of another such complex is under way.

The TTD focussed its attention on augmenting drinking water facilities at Tirumala in order to overcome scarcity in the summer months and during the annual Brahmothsavams, which attract huge congregations. Although the drinking water requirement of Tirumala is by and large met by the three existing dams (Akasa Ganga, Papavinasanam and Gogarbham), which are rain-fed, the administration is forced to draw water from the Kalyani reservoir located in Tirupati. It is in this context that the TTD decided to undertake the Rs.100-crore Kumaradhara and Pasupudhara twin-dams project.

Another area that has drawn the managements attention is the second ghat road to Tirumala. The road, which was laid in 1975, is vulnerable to landslips and rock falls owing to the loose condition of the soil. The TTD is constructing breast walls up to a length of 1.5 km at four identified places in order to strengthen the damaged slopes. Further, it has adopted the advanced rock nailing and bolting technique to prevent the fall of rocks and boulders. The administration is spending Rs.1.62 crore to make road travel to the temple safe.

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