The tragedy killing 102 people near Sabarimala temple in Kerala could have been averted had the state government implemented the master plan to control the crowd, Environment minister Jairam Ramesh had said. It was the worst tragedy in the history of the temple.
The environment ministry and Travancore Devaswom Board in 2005 had prepared a master plan for creating facilities around the temple for managing crowd. It included diversion of 122 hectares of forestland including 12 hectares from within the Periyar tiger reserve.
“The master plan implementation is not happening in a time-bound manner,” Ramesh said, in hard-hitting letter to Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan. “A faithful and timely implementation of this plan would have prevented any kind of disaster in the area.”
The plan was prepared following a recommendation by Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2005, which included creation of facilities for transportation, fire fighting, communication and disaster management.
Ramesh had sent member secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NCTA) to Sabarimala after the tragedy to find out the reasons for the tragedy. Gopal, in his report, blamed lack of infrastructure for the tragedy. “The most of the proposals have not been implemented,” an official said.
The report also said that the stampede was result of temporary blockade in the pathway near Uppupara. In this context, Ramesh has suggested that the state government should implement the master plan in time bound manner and there should be an independent monitoring mechanism to ensure that the plan is implemented.