Railways will provide maximum possible facilities for Sabarimala pilgrims at Chengannur Railway Station during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival that begins on November 16, according to Mr. Rajiv Dutt Sarma, Railway Divisional Manager.

Mr. Sarma was talking to reporters during his visit to the railway station at Chengannur to take stock of the situation and explore the possibility of extending better pilgrim amenities there during the forthcoming Sabarimala festival season.

It is noteworthy that Union Minister of State for Railways, E. Ahammed, has declared Chengannur railway station the ‘Gateway of Sabarimala during his recent visit to the place.

Mr. Sarma said a special task force would be posted to co-ordinate the functioning of the Railways at Chengannur during the annual pilgrim season.

He said a new pilgrim amenity centre estimated at Rs. 1 crore would be constructed at the railway station premises, besides constructing an ornamental gate at the entrance of the railway station complex in the backdrop of its new status as ‘Gateway to Sabarimala’.

He said a ‘Janata’ refreshment stall would be opened at the railway station to provide meals to Ayyappa devotees at a subsidised rate of Rs. 10.

Stop for all trains

Mr. Sarma said all trains including special trains would be permitted to have a five-minute halt at Chengannur during the annual Sabarimala festival.

Special trains coming from Rajahmundry, Secunderabad and Vishakhapattanam in Andhra Pradesh during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival will be extended upto Kollam from their earlier termination point at Kottayam following a request in this regard by the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom so that the devotees could visit Pandalam Palace and the adjoining Sastha temple as part of their annual Sabarimala pilgrimage, he said.

Mr. Sarma said additional the Railway Police Force personnel would be deployed at Chengannur, besides providing more railway staff at the ticket counters, during the annual pilgrim season. Two more ticket counters would be opened at the railway station, he added.

ABASS plea

Meanwhile, in a statement issued here on Friday, ABASS vice-president, D. Vijayakumar, has called upon the Railway authorities to include Chengannur in the Railway Map.

He said the decision to provide better pilgrim facilities at Chengannur railway station during the annual Sabarimala festival was a welcome move and the authorities should ensure implementation of their promises in a time-bound manner.

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