Paving the way for new pilgrims

Crowd management and scaling up of security infrastructure in Sabarimala and its precincts to host thousands of women pilgrims following the Supreme Court verdict will throw new challenges for the Kerala government and the Travancore Devaswom Board.

Board Commissioner N. Vasu told
The Hindu
here on Friday that all decisions and preparations hinged on the time frame set for implementing the verdict. “If it takes immediate effect, the board will provide optimum facilities, mainly toilets for women, at Pampa and Sabarimala and its surroundings,” Mr. Vasu said.

On getting more time, the board would be able to provide better facilities, mainly toilets and retreat rooms. During the festival season, 25,000 to 50,000 people converge at Sabarimala every day.

In addition to the guest house and dormitories, the Sannidhanam has fewer than 100 rooms. But the Sabarimala Master Plan does not advocate creation of more accommodation facilities, mainly concrete structures at the Sannidhanam.

Challenges are too many, especially during the Makaravilakku season. Security needs to be bolstered on the trekking path between Pampa and Sabarimala and queues regulated.

Board sources told
The Hindu
that pilgrims had to wait in queues for long hours for
darshan
. More forces, including policewomen, would have to be posted for security and sufficient rooms need to be provided for women waiting for
darshan
.

Exclusive queues

The Board would have to form exclusive queues for women and make special arrangements for making the
darshan
easy for them. This calls for the government providing more land from the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Pressure on space is one issue that has been vexing the Board and the government for long. Repeated requests from the government and the Board to provide land to set up infrastructure have proved futile.

Now, the government would have to furnish fresh requests seeking more land from the tiger reserve and sanction funds for improving facilities. All these need to be delivered within a specific time frame and that would be a tall challenge, sources said.

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