The argument that there should have been better infrastructure at Pulmedu near Sabarimala, where a stampede on Saturday claimed 102 lives, is post facto rationalisation. Pulmedu is a peripheral area of the Periyar Tiger Sanctuary. We cannot have permanent infrastructure coming up in the reserve as it will unsettle the ecological equilibrium. As it is, the harm done to the Pampa river and the surrounding hills during the pilgrimage season is huge.
The solution lies in evolving a mechanism to control the influx of people. The authorities can e-register every pilgrim and issue slips.
Sarath S. Pillai, New Delhi
The Kerala government and the Travancore Devaswom board should spend some portion of the revenue earned from the pilgrimage to create adequate facilities. I personally do not understand what purpose will be served by conducting a judicial probe into the tragedy.
B.C.U. Nair, Hyderabad
I have been visiting the Sabarimala for over three decades. The January 14 incident has reinforced the need to regulate pilgrim traffic on the uninhabited routes to the shrine and crack down on unauthorised ferrying by overloaded jeeps, a very common sight in Kerala. No point in blaming the policemen, the State government or the Devaswom. The inflow of pilgrims is on the increase and the only way to control stampedes and other accidents is to ban or regulate pilgrim movement on routes like Pulmedu.
T.V. Suresh, Coimbatore
Taking things for granted is the main villain. In general, the crowd management techniques we adopt are primitive and lack imagination and innovation. There is no anticipation of the worst, nor are there the needed contingency plans. While the standards of discipline among the public are pathetically low, mob behaviour compounds the problem. It is the authorities who should play a proactive role, given the realities of crowd behaviour. With a strong will, it should not be difficult to devise ways to tackle all situations.
S. Subramaniyan, Chennai
People should change their attitude. Congregating at a place in lakhs and blaming the government after a problem strikes are not fair. All leading newspapers and television news channels have been reporting about the rush at Sabarimala and the problems faced by the authorities.
Why should people throng a place when many television channels telecast the Makarajyothi live? They can sit at home with a clean mind and body, and comfortably pray to god. Let us understand that Iruppidam (where we live) is Vaikuntham.
S. Jayashree, Chennai
Every year, one hears of tragedy striking places of pilgrimage. We also hear of a lack of amenities, health care facilities and adequate disaster management measures, post-event. Why can't the authorities take effective steps to ensure that the pilgrimages are safe and comfortable? As for the pilgrims, they must note that a moment's prayer at home in silence is equally rewarding and satisfying.
Raju Umamaheswar, Coimbatore