Limited Bus Service Hampers Daily Life in Andhra Border Village
Students of Bommanahal Junior College return to their native village of Devagiri, Andhra Pradesh, after the bus was late.
Devagiri, Andhra Pradesh: Boya Adarsh, Koti Boya Jaswanth, Boya Akash, Boya Basavaraju and two students of Bommanahal Junior College have missed the only morning bus that plies through Devagiri, Andhra Pradesh, and are walking to the institute, about 7 km away.
The boys tell 101Reporters that since walking is time-consuming and exhausting, they either hope to find an autorickshaw or hitch bike rides. The collapse of the Kandepalli bridge last year left the village without bus service for nearly three months, they say.
To an outsider, the serene village of Devagiri, nestled amidst the hillocks of Anantapur district, paints a charming picture. But routine life is difficult for its inhabitants due to inadequate public transport. Devagiri is 520 km from Vijayawada and 90 km from the capital of Anantapur district.
Devagiri has an Anganwadi, a government primary school and a village secretariat, but it remains wanting in terms of public transport and infrastructure. Morapudi Chola Raj Kumar, YCP (Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party) state commerce secretary, stresses the need to improve bus service for Devagiri’s population of 3,500 people.
The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) operates only one service, from Uravakonda to Bellary via Devagiri, with two trips a day each way. There is no railway station nearby.
Passengers at Devagiri, an Andhra village on the border with Karnataka.
Everyone who travels to neighbouring villages or towns for work, errands or healthcare struggles for transport. It is the same for daily commuters who live nearby but work in Devagiri. Employees risk arriving late for work, hampering productivity. Those who can afford the luxury of a two-wheeler also find that it eats into their modest monthly budget.
The 18 staff members of Devagiri Zilla Parishad High School, including primary school staff members, who come from various nearby places like Uddehal, Bommanahal, Kalyandurg, Uravakonda, Gutti, Anantapur and Bellary, hire a private taxi.
Headmaster Changala Mallikarjuna says, “The bus service timings don’t coincide with that of the school. So, we rely on personal transport or opt for carpooling, etc. But it is expensive.”
Routine check-ups for the elderly, sick or pregnant women are either delayed or rescheduled because of the erratic bus timings.
Devagiri Shankarappa, a farmer who has lived in the village for almost 50 years, also complains about the limited bus service. “Travelling anywhere outside Devagiri—be it Kalyandurg, Rayadurgam or Anantapur—is very difficult without a reliable bus service,” he says.
Homemaker Burujula Manimala, from neighbouring Haresamudram, who was married into a family in Devagiri, also rues the insufficient service. “There are no autorickshaws if I want to visit my village,” she says adding that it is “harder for girl students”.
Devagiri seems so off the radar that the so-called bus stop does not have a signboard. This often causes confusion and inconveniences commuters, especially those unfamiliar with the route.
A community-based youth initiative provides respite to a small extent to those travelling between Devagiri and Bommanahal. It also helps generate employment with the youth of the locality plying 10 vehicles, including three autorickshaws, between Devagiri and Bommanahal, 7.5 km away, everyday apart from emergency services.
Volunteer Burujula Srikanth says he will notify the authorities concerned about having a signboard installed at the bus stop. He recalls how insufficient access to regular transport cut short his efforts to complete a bachelor’s degree. “I couldn’t afford to move to nearby towns to study,” he says.
YCP’s Kumar admits that besides financial constraints, limited transport options often force students to abandon their dreams of pursuing higher education. “All the higher education institutes are in nearby towns, such as Rayadurgam, Kalyandurg and Anantapur. The lack of proper transport is a significant factor leading to dropouts in the village,” he says.
APSRTC says public demand is crucial
According to Kuruba Sambasiva, an assistant depot clerk-cum-controller with APSRTC, there is a service each from Uravakonda to Bellary via Devagiri at 9 am and 2 pm and another service each from Bellary to Uravakonda at 1 pm and 4 pm, covering seven major villages along the route.
“APSRTC may consider the possibility of increasing the bus frequency if the occupancy ratio exceeds 60 persons per bus. But the decision to increase the frequency lies with the regional and depot managers,” he says.
A bus driver with APSRTC requesting anonymity notes that this capacity is easily met on regular days. “Every single service from Uravakonda reaches its full capacity (60 persons) on regular days with the demand increasing during festivals and special occasions. The poor condition of the roads further delays the service. The bus starts from Uravakonda and arrives at Devagiri after covering villages such as Nerimetla, Rayanapalli, Honnuru, Govindawada and Bandaru.
APSRTC Uravakonda depot manager Balaji Dayal told 101Reporters over the phone that public requests are necessary to resolve the matter. “As of now, no requests or representations have been received for increasing the bus service. APSRTC needs a permit from Karnataka government to proceed.”
While Raj Kumar, whose spouse Radhika is the Panchayat president, admits that they haven’t formally approached the state to request an increase in the frequency of buses, he assures that it is on the agenda once the state elections, due in the next six months, are over.
The writer is an Andhra Pradesh-based freelance journalist and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.
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