Tirupati: Pilgrims are allegedly being fleeced at Tirumala by some shopkeepers in connivance with employees of state tourism departments and tourist guides.
According to people in the know, employees of tourism departments of different states sell a portion of tickets allotted to them to pilgrims who have independently to the temple town for darshan.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) allots 4,500 tickets to tourism departments of different states. However, only 2,000 people are said to come through tourism packages, leaving the rest unused. The unused tickets end up with touts, who sell them to other pilgrims.
Apart from selling tickets, the touts make unsuspecting pilgrims deposit their mobile phones and luggage with shopkeepers, who are not authorised to offer such service. The TTD manages mobile and luggage counters, where pilgrims can deposit their belongings free of cost.
Shopkeepers charge Rs 30 for safekeeping mobiles or luggage. According to an estimate, shopkeepers earn at least Rs 10 lakh a month through unauthorised mobile and luggage counters.
Speaking to this newspaper, a devotee Jignesh from Ahmedabad said, “We are six members, who came here on a package of AP tourism. I noticed a free luggage and mobile deposit counters after depositing our mobiles at a private shopkeeper, who charged us Rs 80 for safekeeping three mobiles and some luggage. Vigilance officials should look into this unauthorised business.”
A tourism official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We will look into the issue. We came to know that there are no mobile depositing counters near the approach point. We will take up this issue with TTD now.”...