The State will formulate an action plan to avert disasters at Sabarimala, the government submitted before the Kerala High Court on Friday.

In a report, K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Devaswoms Secretary, said that taking into account the hazardous nature of the Sabarimala trek and the potential danger of slippage and stampede on the steep stretches of Neelimala and Appachimedu, the government and the high-power committee for implementation of the Sabarimala master plan would hold a meeting with the National Disaster Management Authority, the State Disaster Management Authority, the National Disaster Response Force and other experts and devise safety measures.

The report said it was necessary to have a round-the-year mechanism to coordinate arrangements in view of the growing number of pilgrims visiting the holy hillock at Sabarimala. This would improve the quality and safety standards of various services there.

Mr. Jayakumar, who is also the chairman of the committee, said it had identified a few projects for better crowd management and these would be completed before the next pilgrim season.

The projects included development of Nilakkal as a base camp by enhancing parking and other facilities, creating additional space at the Sannidhanam by constructing a two-storey ‘Nadapanthal', building an exit overbridge in the rear side of the temple and shifting the prasadam complex to decongest the Sannidhanam.

Steps to improve facilities and safety at the points where pilgrims congregated to watch the Makarajyothi would be taken up along with these projects.

The trust, formed to mobilise funds for the projects estimated at Rs.100 crore, would meet on Sunday, the report said.

On Thursday, the Cabinet decided to convene a high-level meeting of the agencies concerned to evolve a foolproof mechanism for coordinated action aimed at ensuring maximum safety and convenience for pilgrims. The government had already directed Mr. Jayakumar to submit a detailed proposal.

As for the January 14 stampede, the report said the exact sequence of events that led to the tragedy and the actual reason would be clear only after the completion of the ongoing Crime Branch investigation.

It said 279 police personnel were deployed at Pulmedu, where the tragedy occurred. Nobody could have anticipated such a tragedy given the terrain of the place.

In fact, the Sabarimala master plan envisaged discontinuing progressively the practice of allowing pilgrims there, as it is an environmentally sensitive area.

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