Tirumala faces security threat

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Vehicle scanner lying defunct for six months

Failure to repair the under vehicle scanner at the Alipiri security checkpoint, which developed a technical snag over six months ago, has exposed the abode of Lord Venkateswara to security threats.

The scanner was fitted some five years ago at the old checkpoint to inspect the undercarriage of four-wheelers for possible transport of explosive material as well as prohibited items like cigarettes and liquor to the sacred hills. When a car passes over the scanner, the lens captures the picture and transmits it to the screen in the nearby control room, from where the security sleuths alert their colleagues at the next (new) security post-cum-toll gate.

Heavy traffic

With the scanner out of action, the security personnel are forced to conduct manual checks. On an average, more than 7,000 four-wheelers ply on the Tirumala ghat road everyday, which indicates the level of preparedness required by the security system. Though the TTD management has already sanctioned repair work and the security/engineering officials are seized of the matter, it is an undeniable fact that the issue has not received the attention it deserves. Since Alipiri is at the foot of the hills, the rainwater flowing down the hill fills up the pit where the camera is installed at the low-lying point.

“The camera has been taken out for repair under annual maintenance. However, before it is repaired and reinstalled, the engineering department will have to take up civil work in the form of a ditch to prevent water flowing on to it, in order to prevent damage in future,” a top security official told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. The camera was reportedly taken out for repair only a fortnight back.

TTD Executive Officer D. Sambasiva Rao, who touched the spot during the course of his regular visit on Tuesday, spoke to the field-level security officials and enquired about the reason for the delay in restoring the system.

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