Absence of facilities, poor pilgrim management

Absence of basic facilities and inefficient pilgrim management have made the much publicised Virtual Queue system of the Kerala Police for darshan at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple a nightmarish experience to pilgrims.

The pilgrims, including small children and elderly women, who arrive at the temple after registering their names online as part of the

Virtual Queue system often have to wait for three to four hours inside the barricades at the Valiya Nadappanthal.

Till Tuesday afternoon, they had to wait on a heavily congested light-roofed flyover that did not have even drinking water supply

facility. A few small children and elderly pilgrims fainted while waiting in the queue. The authorities shifted the queue from the flyover to the Valiya Nadappanthal by 5 p.m. on Tuesday following complaints about inadequate basic facilities on the narrow flyover. However, the

pilgrims’ plight continues as the police have failed to streamline the queue and speed up pilgrim movement towards the temple.

Sources told The Hindu that the police personnel deployed to assist the pilgrims on the holy steps leading to the temple lacked training and sufficient experience. There were also demands to deploy the more experienced and trained personnel attached to the Rapid Action Force and the National Disaster Response Force to speed up pilgrim movement towards the temple sopanam.

Earlier, the police personnel posted at the holy steps were given health drinks to keep them physically active in pilgrim management.

But, this practice has been stopped for reasons best known to the authorities concerned.

As per the Kerala Police website, 35,000 to 40,000 pilgrims a day avail themselves of the online booking facility for darshan through the Virtual Queue system.

Many pilgrims are of the view that either the police should reduce the number of pilgrims permitted to enter the Virtual Queue on a daily

basis or should ensure better pilgrim management.

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