The Akhila Bharatha Ayyapa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) has opened as many as 20 camps in different parts of the State, offering the basic amenities of food, drinking water and shelter to Sabarimala pilgrims from the beginning of the annual pilgrim season.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr D.Vijayakumar, ABASS national vice-president, said the Sanghom has opened camps at the Sannidhanam, Pampa, Nilackal and Erumely on November 16 when Lord Ayyappa Temple was opened for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.
Mr Vijayakumar said the ABASS major camps at the Sannidhanam, Pampa, Nilackal, Erumely, Pandalam, Valiyanavattom, Karimala, Azhutha and Uppupara have started functioning in full swing.
The Sanghom has also opened camps at Ernakulam Railway station, Chengannur Railway station, Kottayam Medical College Hospital, Pathanamthitta, Ranni, Kumily, Vandithavalom, Thrissur, Kodakara and Guruvayur, he said.
The 24-hour emergency stretcher service headed by its captain Thanchavur Damodaran, is the backbone of the Sanghom service wing.
Trained ABASS volunteers have been deployed at Pampa, Sannidhanam, Appachimedu and Neelimala to operate the free emergency stretcher service for transporting sick pilgrims to the nearest healthcare centre.
Thanchavur Damodaran has been captaining the emergency stretcher service at Sabarimala since the past five decades, Mr Vijayakumar said.
The ABASS emergency stretcher service is available at Appachimedu, Saramkuthi, Neelimala and Pampa through out the pilgrim season or during the monthly puja period, he said.
Mr Vijayakumar said specially trained ABASS volunteers Have been posted for manning the oxygen parlours set up by the Health department along the Pampa-Sannidhanam trekking path and at the Sannidhanam.
He said the Sanghom has made arrangements to supply medicated drinking water to pilgrims at Sannidhanam, Pampa, Paandithavalom and Nilackal and at different points along the trekking path.
Mr Vijayakumar said hundreds of devotees were attending the Annadanam offered by ABSS at its camps on a daily basis.
He said a good number of woman devotees who congregate the palace town of Pandalam to worship the sacred attire `Thirvabharanam’ have also been taking part in the Annadanam offered by the Sanghom at the Manikantan Althara.
The Sanghom has also deployed a special volunteer force at Sabarimala and Pampa with a view to extend a helping hand to the pilgrims visiting the Ayyappa shrine round the clock during the pilgrim season, he said.
Mr Vijayakumar said ABASS has also opened a automobile workshop in association with the TVS Motors Limited at Nilackal base camp.
Pilgrims will have the facility to repair their vehicles, if needed, free of any repairing charge, except the retail price of the spare parts needed for the repair work, he said.