Daily footfall to Sabarimala restricted to 90,000
CM had convened a meeting in view of the Sunday’s Kerala HC directive amid mounting complaints of pilgrims who were forced to stand more than eight to 10 hours in queues. The high court had also directed the temple board and Pathnamthitta district collector to suggest ways to control the rush.
In the light of unprecedented rush to Sabarimala temple in Kerala, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a meeting on Monday decided to restrict the daily footfall while assuring a “trouble-free pilgrimage”, officials privy to the matter said.
The meeting chaired by Vijayan, held in the state capital, has decided to restrict thedaily pilgrims’ rush in Sabariamala temple to 90,000, said one of the officials quoted above.“The government is committed to improve the facilities to ensure a trouble-free pilgrimage,” the CM said after the meeting.
The CM had convened the meeting in view of the Sunday’s Kerala high court directive amid mounting complaints of pilgrims who were forced to stand more than eight to 10 hours in queues. The high court had also directed the temple board and Pathnamthitta district collector to suggest ways to control the rush.
Meanwhile, during the meeting it was also decided to extend the darshan timings by an hour. Now, the sanctum sanctorum, which opens at 3 am will be closed at 11.30 pm (instead of earlier 11pm), said the officials.
The temple affairs minister K Radhakrishnan and concerned department heads will also hold a review meeting every week, said the CM.
The parking facility in Nilakkal, main base camp, will also be improved to adjust more vehicles, the CM said.
On Monday also, the temple witnessed heavy rush and at least 1,19,000 booking were recorded, according to the temple authorities.
Owing to the tourist rush, many roads leading to the shrine in Pathanamthitta district were clogged since Sunday night.
On Saturday, a stampede-like situation took place in Marakootum, about 1km from the Sannidhanam (temple complex), in which many pilgrims and police personnel sustained minor injuries. Taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, the high court held the special sitting on Sunday and instructed the temple board and police to take immediate steps to ease the rush.
“We will take all possible measures to ensure a smooth pilgrimage. We will inform the high court about the steps being taken to control the rush,” said Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) president K Ananthagopan.
The TDB manages day to day affairs of the temple. Ananthagopan said: “After lifting of the two-year-long pandemic restrictions, pilgrims are now visiting the temple to compensate for the break”. He said the tourist rush is expected to increase in the coming days due to holidays. The temple has previously witnessed two major stampedes in 1999 and 2011, during which hundreds of pilgrims were killed.
Besides the CM and temple affairs minister K Radhakrishnan, state police chief Anil Kant, Pathanamthitta collector Divya S Iyer and other departmental heads participated in the meeting.