Separate queues for children and elderly pilgrims at Sabarimala
The police on Thursday started separate queues for children and elderly pilgrims following heavy rush at Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala,said state police chief Anil Kant after reviewing security arrangements at the shrine
The police on Thursday started separate queues for children and elderly pilgrims following heavy rush at Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala,said state police chief Anil Kant after reviewing security arrangements at the shrine.
The state government also came under criticism from opposition parties and Hindu outfits after many pilgrims had complained that they were forced to wait eight to ten hours in queues without water or food to reach the temple.
On Wednesday, the Kerala high court had ordered the temple board to give boiled water and biscuits to the waiting pilgrims. The temple has been recording a steady flow of around one lakh pilgrims every day in past one week, according to the temple authorities. The rush is likely to go up as many holidays are coming, said the authorities.
Due to increase in footfall, the revenue has also shot up. Till Wednesday the temple raked up ₹152 crore, a senior official of the temple board said. The annual pilgrimage season will end on January 21 and going by the present trend it will be a record collection this time, he said. In recent years the highest collection was in 2017-18 at ₹277.96 crore.
“We will make separate queues for children and elderly people. We are monitoring the pilgrims’ flow and traffic movement. We will deploy more policemen to ensure smooth pilgrimage,” said the police chief.
Last week, the temple had witnessed a stampede like situation forcing the temple authorities to come out of their slumber and cap daily numbers to 90,000.
In the wake of heavy criticism, the state government convened another meeting in Pathanamathitta on Thursday in which three ministers and top officials participated. A senior official who attended the meet later said that government departments “blamed each other for the temple situation”. Police and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages day to day affairs also traded charges in ministers’ presence.
“We will take all steps to avert stampede-like situations. Any lapse in crowd management will be addressed through monitoring. We will also expand parking base in Nilakkal, second base camp, to ensure smooth traffic flow,” said temple affairs (Devasom) minister K Radhkrishanan. Revenue minister K Rajan and Local-self government minister M B Rajesh also attended the meeting.
The opposition BJP and Congress meanwhile criticised the government for poor handling of the situation. “The base camps does not even have basic facilities for pilgrims. It seems the government was sleeping and left everything to the high court to decide,” said senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the temple two days ago.
BJP state president K Surendran, who visited the temple on Wednesday, said: “The situation was really appalling.” The temple, situated in Pambha tiger reserve, had witnessed two major stampedes in 1999 and 2011 in which more than 160 people died.