Authorities Meeting held to make Sabarimala devotees hardships are increased

published on April 4, 2011

Makarajyothi Darsan from Pulmedu may be banned
P T Mohanan Pillai –

PATHANAMTHITTA: In a move that will hurt the sentiments of crores of Sabarimala pilgrims and attract widespread protest from Hindu organisations, a joint meeting of the Forest Department and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided not to allow Makarajyothi darsan from Pulmedu where 102 pilgrims died on January 15.

The decision to this effect, subject to the final approval of the State Government, was taken at the meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram the other day, which was attended by Additional Chief Secretary and Sabarimala Master Plan High Power Committee chairman K Jayakumar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Trivedi Babu and TDB president Rajagopalan Nair.

Instead of initiating measures for setting up adequate facilities and crowd control at Pulmedu for Makarajyothi darsan, the meeting decided to ban vehicles of pilgrims to Pulmedu.

It had also decided to ask the KSRTC to run special schedules from Kumily to Kozhikanam (from December 10 to January 15), instead of Uppupara as done in the previous years.

However, the meeting failed to suggest alternative measures to reach Uppupara, which is 14 km away from Kozhikanam forest check-post on the Gavi-Vallakadavu road.

Another decision taken at the meeting was to open Parunthumpara, which is around 8  km from Peerumedu town, to pilgrims for Makarajyothi darsan. The Forest Department held the view that Parunthumpara had better facilities, including adequate road network and the place offers a clear view of Makarajyothi.

It may be recalled that lack of adequate number of security personnel at Pulmedu for crowd control, where around three lakh pilgrims gathered to witness Makarajyothi on January 15, was one of the reasons for the tragic incident.

One of the recommendations in the Sabarimala Master Plan for reducing overcrowding at Sannidhanam during the peak Makaravilakku season is to develop Pulmedu as a transit camp for Sabarimala pilgrims.

If a transit camp facility is developed at Pulmedu, cardiac death cases occurring on the trekking path between Pampa and Saramkuthi could be reduced, since the trekking path from Pulmedu to Sannidhanam is sloppy thereby reducing the chance for casualties.

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