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Approval for Tirumala ropeway

A. Devarajan

TIRUPATI: Notwithstanding the protests of the BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits and the objections by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams' Agama Expert Committee, the controversial project of laying an aerial ropeway from Tirupati to Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, has now been approved. The TTD Trust Board gave its nod as the Andhra Pradesh Government is interested in pushing the project through its Tourist Development Corporation (TDC).

The Board has not approved the APTDC's project in toto. It has approved only the laying of the ropeway but not the Corporation's original proposal to develop a `visitors zone' near Alipiri, at the foot of the hill. The Board has rejected the Corporation's request for a 100-acre site at Alipiri required for the purpose and given it just an acre. Similarly, it would provide only one acre to the Corporation even at Tirumala to help it set up the ropeway terminal point.

This casts a cloud on the TDC's project to set up a modern `visitors zone' comprising facilities such as an Imax theatre, theme park, food court, shopping malls and petrol-filling stations so as to tap the tourist potential available at Tirupati-Tirumala— an average of 50,000 plus pilgrims every day and the number crossing even a lakh on festive occasions. The Corporation was keen on integrating the ropeway project with the `visitors zone' project.

The Sangh Parivar had objected to the project on the ground that it amounted to interference in the TTD's autonomy and hurt the religious sentiments. The media and the public too had criticised the multi-crore project as it would in no way reduce the long waiting hours for darshan.

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