Sabarimala rush: Authorities face critcism over lapses in arrangements, preparing action plan

By S Sunithkumar

2 min read
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Sabarimala l Photo: Akhil ES/ Mathrubhumi

Pathanamthitta: Serious lapses have been identified on the part of police and the Pathanamthitta district administration in setting up required facilities in Sabarimala temple even after being informed on the heavy inflow of pilgrims.Though the officials could know the number of pilgrims arriving at the temple each day as the virtual queue booking was made compulsory, necessary actions to avoid the rush were not administered.

According to the Disaster Management Act, an action plan has to be drafted if the rush becomes uncontrollable. However, neither the district administration nor the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority has prepared any such plans. Currently, a plan formulated by the police years ago has been followed to control the unprecedented rush. It includes guiding the pilgrims to Chandranandan road via Bailey bridge to regulate the crowd in ‘Nadapanthal’.

The district administration pursued some sort of vigilance only after many pilgrims and police officials were injured in the heavy rush at Marakkoottam recently.

Even when the devotees stand in queues for several hours from Marakkoottam to the shrine, the flyover constructed for the same witness comparatively less hustle. As per the present estimates, at least 80 to 90 devotees have to be let inside the shrine via the eighteen holy steps within a minute to ease the rush in queues from Marakkoottam.

The pilgrims are flocking to the Sabarimala shrine via Karimala, Pullumedu, and Neelimala. Most of the pilgrims are opting Neelimala route, which has been renovated recently. However, the renovation has resulted in increasing the elevation which makes the hike more difficult than earlier. Hence, devotees are taking more time to reach the shrine via Neelimala and Appachimedu now.

With an increase in the number of large vehicles, the maximum number of vehicles that can be parked at Nilakkal was set as 6,500. The contractors were directed to keep a check on whether the vehicles are being parked on the parking grounds. A notice has been issued to the contractors warning them of scrapping the contract if any lapses were found from their side.

The Kerala High Court has issued directions for managing the crowd in Sabarimala temple. During the hearing, the government informed the High Court that 100 police officials are deployed at the holy steps while 400 cops are on duty in sannidanam. Regular patrolling on jeeps has started in Laha- Nilakkal, and Kannamala- Elavunkal routes.

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