Tirupati: Situated in the Tirumala hills of Andhra Pradesh, it is one of the most visited places in India and probably the world. Shri Venkateshwara Temple receives around 65,000 pilgrims each day. On special occasions this number rises to about 5 lakhs. Given its importance, the temple was selected as one of the 100 iconic sites in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship mission – the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan – to be cleaned up and international standards of cleanliness implemented.
To achieve this status, the Tirupati Devasthanam has dedicated itself to ensure this shrine stays spotless round the year. The major hurdle in doing so is making sure that the roads leading to the temple stays clean and safe.
With tens of thousands of visitors flocking in everyday, most touching base at Tirupati before driving off to Tirumala or trekking the seven hills to reach the temple town, it is this route that requires maximum attention.
“Any litter or waste that we find anywhere, we have to pick it up and discard. Cleaning is important to us” says Kalpana, a sweeper at the Tirupati Railway Station.
Rajeshwari, who has been cleaning the bus stands and the nearby roads at the central bus station in Tirupati for 13 years, also understands the need for keeping the town clean. “It is important to clean this place as many pilgrims come here before going to the temple. We do it to ensure the town is healthy for them” she says.
However, with such high frequency of visitors, the town needs more than sweepers and cleaners for its sanitation goals. The Devasthanam has, thus, stepped in to fill the gaps.
“There are about 4,000 people who work day and night to keep the town clean” says Dr. Sambasiva Rao, the Executive Officer of the Tirumala – Tirupati Devasthanam.
“We use machinery like scrubbers to reduce the dependency on man power. We have partly outsourced the work and to further achieve the best records for cleaning we work by identifying specific machinery for specific purposes” he explains the process of their group.
Although the cleanliness activities carried out by the group keeps the temple exceptionally clean, the unsegregated garbage collected from its periphery gets dumped few kilometres away from Triumala, near the Gogarbam dam.
Therefore, to highlight this missing loop in the chain and to work towards a solution, the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign has set an agenda: