Visakhapatnam: Tourists bound for Araku and Lammasingi are expressing their displeasure over lack of public toilets on the ghat roads connecting to the tourist spots. Tourists, particularly women, have no alternative on the stretch.
Though the AP Tourism department spent a huge amount on organising Hot Air Balloon Festival and Araku Utsav to promote tourism and draw visitors from all parts of the country, the department has failed to set up the basic amenities such as public toilets on the ghat road stretch.
Some male tourists are seen urinating in the open in the absence of public toilets on the stretch connecting Kasipuram to Araku and also Narsipatnam to Lammasingi, womenfolk have to bear with the inconvenience.
Expressing her displeasure, K. Pranitha from Hyderabad who visited Araku along with her family said that there should at least be temporary toilets on the ghat road during the peak winter season. “The weather was absolutely fantastic on the ghat road but due to lack of toilets, we didn’t spend much time there,” she said.
Tourist footfall has been increasing in Lammasingi of Chintapalle mandal in Vizag Agency as visitors make their way to the tiny village to experience the cold weather and dense fog.
“Those who have toilets at their houses in Lammasingi and Tajangi refuse to let tourists use them. If toilets are provided, why will tourists urinate in the open?” asked Kabita and Sangeetha, who visited Lammasingi recently.
The picturesque locales along Vizag Agency are enchanting. If the authorities provide basic facilities on the ghat roads, the place will look even more beautiful, they said.
Tourists from West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana and parts of Andhra Pradesh enjoy the ghat roads surrounding by greenery and coffee plantations in Vizag Agency but the sight of men relieving themselves leaves the visitors, especially women, uncomfortable. An officer with the tourism department, on condition of anonymity, said that public toilet facilities were provided at the petrol bunks on the way to Araku. But due to lack of maintenance, visitors are not using the toilets, he said.
Hotels, cabbies fleece visitors
Hotels, guesthouses and lodges have doubled their tariff in Araku region. Private drivers and local guides openly fleece tourists by quoting high rates in the peak winter season, pinching the pockets of the visitors. The Araku Valley has over 100 hotels and resorts, including two APTDC Haritha hotels with 3,000_odd rooms accommodating a good number of tourists.
“I was looking for a good hotel in Araku for two days. To my surprise, the room tariff of a hotel in Araku is around Rs 4,000, almost double that of good hotel hotels in Vizag city,” said G. Ganesh, a tourist from Bengaluru. There is no respect for tourists in Araku as management of hotels formed a syndicate to fleece visitors, he said.
Araku Valley and its surrounding areas — Padmapuram Gardens, Chaparai natural waterfalls, Borra Caves and Ananthagiri Hills — attract at least 2,000 tourists every day between October and January. A majority of these tourists are from West Bengal and Odisha.
Vizag-based G. Gopikrishna said that he paid extra hoping to get authentic Bamboo Chicken and other dishes Araku is famous for. “But the quality of the food was very poor. When I questioned the management aboutfor cheating us, they ignored and say there are not running Dhaba style hotel to offer tasty food,” he said.
Not only hoteliers, cab drivers in Araku too fleece visitors by jacking up the fares extraordinarily during the winter season. From Araku Valley to Chaparai waterfalls barely 16 km), cab drivers demand anything between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500. Similarly, cab drivers at Borra Caves and Ananthagiri areas also loot tourists by charging high fares to visit Katika waterfalls and Araku Valley.