‘Home coming for Sankranti’ sees bus and rail stations choked and highways jammed
Hyderabad: As many as 50 lakh people who are going to their native villages and towns for celebrating Sankranti festival have caused an unprecedented rush at bus depots and railway stations in the city for the last two days.
Though the festivities begin on Friday with Bhogi, Sankranti on Saturday and Kanumu on Sunday, people from different parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States settled in Hyderabad for various avocations have started leaving for their respective home towns since Sunday last itself. As a matter of fact, many had booked their trains and bus tickets well in advance. Thus the bus and railway stations in the city are virtually choked with passengers.
The SCR and RTC authorities have also made special arrangements to cope with the heavy festival rush by operating extra services. However, there seemed to be a shortfall of the services when compared to the unprecedented rush. This is despite the fact that scores of people proceeding in their own vehicles or in private taxis.
Taking undue advantage of rush and the anxiety of people to reach their native places for their biggest festival in time, unscrupulous private operators of taxis and buses are fleecing the passengers by charging three to four times the normal fare. What is more, even the State-run RTC also seemed to be trying to fill its coffers by charging exorbitant fares. What is intriguing is that people are trying to reach their native places by paying extra fares and traveling in crammed trains and buses.
Large traffic jams and bottlenecks on the national highway between Hyderabad and Vijayawada has become the order of the day during the last few days. Serpentines queues of vehicles are witnessed at all the toll gates with the number of vehicles increasing by 30 percent. According to officials, while 25,000 vehicles cross the Pathangi toll gate on normal days, the traffic has increased by 30 percent in view of the Sankranti festival. Similarly, while 18,000 to 20,000 vehicles, including cars pass through Chillakalu near Jaggaiahpet on normal days, it has increased by about 6,000 vehicles, mostly cars and buses. Same is the situation at toll gates near Gorla Pahad near Nakrekal and Chillakallu and also at Keesara in Krishna district.
The traffic jams at toll gates and the delay in vehicular movement for over 30 minutes at each gate is resulting in frustrating passengers entering into arguments with the staff manning the toll gates. Apart from people from Hyderabad leaving for Vijayawada, Guntur, Vizag and so on, an equal number of persons also travel to different towns in Telanganas like Nizamabad, Warangal, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Khammam and so on.
Rickety buses, exorbitant fares rob festive spirit
Lack of adequate train and bus services besides exorbitant fares being charged by unscrupulous private vehicle operators is leaving people wanting to celebrate Sankranti in their native places literally in tears.
Almost all the trains leaving the three main stations in the city — Secunderabad, Nampally and Kacheguda – to various destinations in Andhra Pradesh and also in Telangana State are running to packed capacity. Though the SCR authorities are running 140 special trains in view of Sankranti, they seem to be not able to cope with the unprecedented rush. Those leaving for various places in the North Coastal Andhra region seem to be the worst affected as the SCR did not make any special arrangements since these areas fall under the East Coast Railway Zone. Thus, the people traveling to Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts were forced to depend mainly on buses, especially those being run by private operators.
The APSRTC authorities claimed that in view of the festive rush, they were operating as many as 750 extra buses daily from Hyderabad to different destinations in AP State. Even TSRTC is operating special buses to Vijayawada, Kakinada, Nellore, Anantapur and Bengaluru. However, despite the extra services by both the RTCs, they are unable to cater to the extra festival rush of passengers. This has come in handy for unscrupulous private operators to fleece the passengers. It is stated that while the normal bus fare to Vijayawada is Rs. 500, the private operators are charging Rs 1,200 to Rs.1,500. Similarly, if the fare to Vizag is Rs.1,000, now the passengers are forced to shell down Rs. 2,500 to Rs.3,000.
Even after purchasing the bus tickets in “black market”, the passengers are subjected to untold hardships due to lack of seats and overcrowding. As if this was not enough, the RTC authorities of both the Telugu States in the name of operating special buses are stated to have pressed into services old and rickety buses forcing passengers, especially women and children, to a horrendous and agonizing travel. -NSS