Sankranti rush leads to traffic jam on Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway

Hyderabad: Railway and bus stations in Hyderabad were packed with passengers while Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway saw traffic jams on Friday as thousands of families were heading to their native places in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for Sankranti.

Hyderabad-Vijayawada was choked with vehicles. Hundreds of vehicles queued up at Pattangi toll plaza.

With both the Telugu states declaring holidays from a day before Sankranti festivities, people left for their villages by trains, buses or whatever mode of transport available. Many families left in their own four-wheelers. Toll plaza at Patangi in Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district was teeming with hundreds of cars.

The queue of vehicles was seen for nearly a kilometer. Despite Fast Tag facility, the huge number of vehicles and the problem in scanning Fast Tag for some vehicles led to a huge traffic jam.

In view of the massive rush, GMR Toll Plaza opened 10 additional lanes for the vehicles. Rachakonda police and GMR Toll Gate staff were trying to tackle the situation.

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Trains and buses to various destinations in both the Telugu states were overcrowded with people, who were in a hurry to be with their near and dear ones to celebrate the harvest festival on January 14.

Dozens of special trains run by the railways and hundreds of buses operated by the state-owned Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) were proving inadequate to tackle the rush.

Families were seen waiting for hours to board the trains and buses to their destinations. Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), Jubilee Bus Station (JBS) and other bus stands at Dilsukhnagar and L.B. Nagar were teeming with people, looking to catch the next available bus to their hometowns.

With a large number of vehicles waiting in queues at toll plazas, TSRTC Managing Director V.C. Sajjanar urged people not to waste their time at toll plazas by travelling to their native places in their vehicles but use TSRTC buses to reach their destinations on time.

On the request of the TSRTC, authorities have provided dedicated toll gates for TSRTC buses.

The TSRTC is operating 4,233 special buses for people going to their hometowns for Sankranti. These buses are being operated from two major bus stations and six other points around Hyderabad.

The TSRT has appealed to people not to shell out extra money by travelling in private vehicles, which is also unsafe travel.

Massive rush of passengers was seen at Secunderabad and Hyderabad railway stations. The South Central Railway is operating special trains to clear the rush. It has opened 21 additional ticket counters at Secunderabad Station to tackle the rush. This is in addition to 12 ticket counters which work on normal days.

In view of the Sankranti rush, SCR has deployed additional staff to provide information to passengers. Number of ticket checking staff and Railway Protection Force (RPF) has also been increased.

Those who are not lucky to own the cars, left on their motorbikes or even boarded trucks and other goods vehicles.

The government employees and those working in the IT sector left for hometowns late Thursday or early Friday to enjoy an extended holiday. Others will leave on Saturday for the three-day festival.

Every year, an estimated two million people from Hyderabad and its surroundings visit their hometowns for Sankranti. Majority of them head towards coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

On no other festival people in such large numbers go home. It leaves the usually busy roads and intersections in Hyderabad rather deserted.

Sankranti offers an opportunity to people to re-visit their roots. A large number of techies, students, government and private employees and also businessmen from coastal Andhra never miss the opportunity to visit their native places.

Their children enjoy the holiday with a feel of the countryside. They celebrate the holiday by visiting the fields, flying kites, watching decorated bulls, cock-fights, bullock-cart races, and other rural sports that are organised on the occasion