Parishad seeks resignation of Devaswom Minister, TDB

The Ayyappa Dharma Parishad has called upon the Union and the State governments to set up an independent administrative trust to ensure foolproof pilgrim facilities at Sabarimala and the safety of the thousands who visit the Ayyappa temple every year.

In a statement here on Tuesday, Parishad national general secretary Ayarkunnam Raman Nair said people with administrative acumen in different walks of life should be nominated to the proposed trust.

Mr. Nair said the alleged fleecing of pilgrims by the Forest Department in the name of shops run by eco-development committees (EDCs) should be inquired into. Various government departments were protecting the interests of commercial quarters at Sabarimala and the base camp of Pulmedu, he alleged.

Mr. Nair alleged that the Travancore Devaswom Board and the police authorities having little experience at Sabarimala were solely responsible for the stampede at Pulmedu that claimed more than a 100 lives on January 14.

The government could not evade its responsibility to ensure the safety of the multitudes who came to Sabarimala from different parts of the country during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival season, he said.

Mr. Nair called for an impartial inquiry into the functioning of the officials attached to the Forest, the Police and the Health departments and the functioning of the EDCs at Sabarimala and Uppupara during the annual pilgrimage.

He said the Devaswom Minister and the TDB authorities should step down owning moral responsibility for the Pulmedu tragedy.

Mr. Nair said the TDB should provide a relief of Rs.10 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs.5 lakh each to the seriously injured without delay.

He said the TDB should stop collecting toll from the pilgrims at Chalakkayam on the main trunk road leading to Sabarimala. The toll had been causing much inconvenience to the pilgrims.

He called upon the Union government to conduct a detailed inquiry into the Pulmedu tragedy and initiate steps to address the problems facing the pilgrims.

He said the State government and the MPs from Kerala should make a concerted effort to avail themselves of the help offered by the Prime Minister for the development of Sabarimala.

Mr. Nair said the leadership meet of the Parishad to be held in Thiruvananthapuram in the first week of February would prepare a draft plan proposal to provide a satisfying holy darshan to all pilgrims visiting Sabarimala. The proposal would be submitted to the Union and the State governments.

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