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Stampede spurs officials into action

Staff Reporter

Collector orders removal of shops and other bottlenecks on NH-9 abutting hillock


The 50-ft-wide stretch from hillock to Durga ghat to be widened to 100 ft

Plan to lay another road from the hillock to Brahmana Veedhi


PHOTO: CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR

Safety measure: Krishna district Collector Navin Mittal, Commissioner of Police C.V. Anand, Municipal Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar and other officials supervising the demolition of shops and other encroachments on National Highway 9 abutting Indrakeeladri in Vijayawada on Saturday. —

VIJAYAWADA: The stampede on Indrakeeladri, which claimed the lives of six persons on Thursday, has come as an opportunity for the district administration to commence the long-pending renovation works pertaining to Kanakadurga temple as well as removal of shops and other encroachments on National Highway-9 abutting the hillock.

Led by district Collector Navin Mittal, officials, who included Joint Collector S. Suresh Kumar, City Police Commissioner C.V. Anand, Municipal Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar and Sub-Collector Gaurav Uppal, met on the temple premises early in the day on Saturday, and without giving much time to the shopkeepers ordered the removal of shops and other structures on the 100-metre stretch on the highway between the hillock and Durga ghat, which had always been a bottleneck and an accident zone.

The works would continue for a month and the road, which now has a width of only 50 feet, would be widened to some 100 feet.

The officials ordered the removal of 18 shops on the roadside, in addition to a portion of a choultry and platforms of Vijayeswara Swamy temple. The plan was to develop a traffic circle around Asoka Pillar and re-carpet the road abutting the hillock.

“Besides widening the ghat road, we’re also chalking out plans to lay another road from the hillock to Brahmana Veedhi. Once this road is completed, one-way rule will be enforced on the present ghat road, so that traffic problem can be tackled,” said Mr. Mittal, who discussed the plan with the engineers of the Endowments Department, revenue, police and the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. These works would commence in a month and completed in nine months.

Mr. Mittal said that the plan to dig a tunnel from the beginning of the ghat road to Om Circle had been found unsuitable to local conditions. “It may lead to further bottlenecks and create more traffic congestion, which is why we’ve planned another road to ease traffic on the existing ghat road,” he explained.

Police station

Mr. Gulzar said that the issue of removal of shops was being discussed with shop owners for the last one year and alternative sites were provided to them.

“Last month they agreed to vacate their shops after the end of ‘Bhavani Deeksha Viramana’ period. Since the decision of the widening of the highway was being implemented on a war-footing, we have commenced the removal of shops without giving prior notice to the owners,” he explained.

Mr. Anand said a proposal for opening a police station on Indrakeeladri would be sent to the police headquarters. “The temple area comes under the jurisdiction of One Town police station at present. As the pilgrim rush has been increasing, there is a need to open a separate police station on the hill,” he said.

Mr. Anand felt the need to strengthen the security of the temple in the wake of alerts from security agencies on possible attacks on places of worship.

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