Auto drivers, RTC crew fight for share in pilgrim pie in Tirupati


Protest against plying of RTC buses in railway station area

The auto rickshaw drivers staged a dharna in front of the busy railway station here on Wednesday, protesting against plying of RTC buses in the area. Their contention is that the AITUC-affiliated auto stands have been ‘serving’ pilgrims round-the-clock for three decades.

It all started with a minor tiff between two unions seeking a slice of the ‘railway pie’ that led to filing of police cases and injury inflicted on a driver.

Sensing a law and order problem in the immediate future as well as in the long run, the Tirupati East Police delved deep into the issue, only to find that neither of the rival unions had permission to park vehicles in the designated area.

Though given permission by the railway authorities for the southern entrance, which witnesses relatively less crowd, the vehicles throng the northern (main) entrance that witnesses high density crowd throughout the day. As the inter-union rivalry spilled on to the streets, the police prevented all auto-rickshaws from entering the vicinity. Local MLA M. Sugunamma has also reportedly expressed support to the auto drivers, as it involved ‘their livelihood.’

Police deny permission

Recently, the APSRTC set up a booking counter at the railway station’s main entrance, intending to tap the passengers moving in the circulatory area, to which the auto drivers objected. ‘The police have squarely denied permission even to the RTC authorities to park their vehicles in the area, as it could cause congestion. The APSRTC however wants to park its buses in front of the main entrance. The RTC cites the agreement entered into between them and the TTD way back in 1975 when the latter gave away its Tirumala transportation business to the corporation. “RTC has the responsibility to transport the Tirumala-bound pilgrims coming here by train,” says APSRTC Employees Union State deputy general secretary Avula Prabhakar Yadav. The RTC unions are keen on explaining their case to the MLA and clear the air.

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