Meeting reviews facilities for Sabarimala devotees

Sabarimala (Ker), Nov 17 (PTI) A high-level meeting ofthe officials at Sabarimala was held on Sunday during whichvarious issues relating to the facilities arranged fordevotees for the annual two-month-long pilgrimage season werediscussed.

Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, whochaired the meeting at Sannidhanam area, assessed the flow ofcrowd and the facilities put in place.

'We had discussed the various facilities arranged atNilackal, Pamba and Sannidhanam. We found some lapses which wewill rectify in a day or two,' Surendran told reporters afterthe meeting.

He said the issues of fund crunch were resolved afterthe government released Rs 30 crore of the Rs 100 croreallotted for the hilltop shrine.

'I hope this pilgrim season will solve the funddeficiency in the future,' Surendran said.

Police officials stationed at Pamba told PTI that tillSunday morning, around 28,540 devotees had climbed the hill.

Even though the TDB officials have claimed all thefacilities are in place, police officials at Pamba are notsatisfied with the telecom authorities.

Calls to the control room telephone number at Pambawent unanswered till 3 p.m.

'The telecom authorities could have given connectioneven before the season started on November 16. They are yet tofix the lines to the control room,' a police officialstationed at Pamba said.

Minister also said small vehicles will be allowed todrop passengers till Pamba and the KSRTC bus stand will adopta queue system and a conductor will be appointed in the busfrom Nilackal to Pamba.

During the last season, private vehicles were allowedonly till Nilackal which is around 18 kms from Pamba, due tothe frenzied protests by a section of devotees and the right-wing political parties.

The KSRTC buses used to ply devotees from Nilackal toPamaba and back.

'The vehicles will soon be able to drop devotees atPamba and go back to Nilackal for parking,' an official said.

The Lord Ayyappa temple here on Sunday witnessed heavyrush of devotees on the second day of the annual two-month-long Mandala-Makaravilakku puja pilgrimage season.

The Devaswom board, which manages temples in thestate, has made elaborate arrangements to provide all possibleamenities to devotees.

The unprecedented floods in August last year hadplayed havoc with the pilgrimage season with most of thefacilities for the devotees being destroyed. PTI RRTSS SS