ABASS seeks aid for kin of those who die during pilgrimage

The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom has called upon the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the State government to take steps to provide financial relief to the dependents of all people who die during their pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.

Talking to The Hindu, D. Vijayakumar, ABASS national vice-president, said at present, only those pilgrims who met with an unnatural end at Sabarimala, Pampa, Nilackal, and Erumely came under the TDB insurance cover for Sabarimala pilgrims. The pilgrims’ base camps at Pandalam and Chengannur should also be brought under the purview of the insurance cover provided by the TDB for the Ayyappa devotees.

Mr. Vijayakumar said the Sanghom had submitted a memorandum to the Union Railway Minister, seeking 30 per rail travel concession for all pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.

He said Railways should provide special facilities for the Sabarimala pilgrims on the Kerala Express, Chennai Mail, Chennai Super Express, Island Express, and Sabari Express during the annual pilgrim season.

Railways should sanction a stop for the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Express (bi-weekly) and the Bhavnagar Express at Chengannur, which has been declared the gateway to Sabarimala by Indian Railways.

Railways should take immediate steps to provide uninterrupted water supply at the Chengannur railway station. There was an acute water scarcity there during the previous pilgrim season, Mr. Vijayakumar said.

Additional staff with knowledge of Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil should be posted at the Chengannur station during the two-month pilgrim season, he said.

Highway status sought

The Sanghom called upon the State government to declare the Chengannur-Ranni-Vadasserikkara road leading to Sabarimala a State Highway.

He said the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation should take steps to deploy maximum number of new buses for the Sabarimala special service. The corporation should also open an advance reservation counter at its temporary operating centre at the Chengannur railway station, besides providing basic retiring facility for the staff on duty during the pilgrim season.

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