Radhakrishnan Kuttor

Pilgrims to be screened using modern electronic gadgets

PATHANAMTHITTA: Sabarimala is all set to receive pilgrims from different parts of the country during the two-month Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival from Friday.

The Travancore Devaswom Board have stocked 2.5-lakh containers of Aravana payasom and 1.65-lakh packets of Appam for distribution during the initial days of the pilgrim season.

Devaswom Executive Officer C. Thulaseedharan Thampi told The Hindu that the Appam-Aravana preparations at the modern preparation and packing unit at Sannidhanam began on November 10.

Mr. Thampi said the Board had stocked sufficient quantity of provisions for the Prasadom preparation in view of the difficulty in transporting goods from Pampa to Sannidhanam during the rush days of the festival season.

He said eight counters would be opened for Aravana distribution and six for Appam at the prasadom distribution complex at Lower Thirumuttom.

He said 40-lakh empty Aravana containers with flip lids had been stocked to meet the growing demand for prasadom.

Mr. Thampi said 120 koottu (950 containers of 250 ml each per kottu) of Aravana were being prepared at the Aravana plant at Sannidhanam on a daily basis. The revised rate of Aravana was Rs. 50 for 250 ml, an increase of Rs. 10, and that of a packet of eight Appams was Rs. 20, a hike of Rs 7.

He said the Board had opened four counters for the sale of Neyyabhishekom coupons near the Malikappuram buildings.

Police arrangements

P. Vijayan, City Police Commissioner, Kochi, and Jose George, Commandant of the Kerala Armed Police-I, Thrissur, have been appointed police special officers at Sannidhanam and Pampa, respectively, during the first phase. Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police M.N. Jayaprakash said 8,000 police personnel would be deployed in Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilackal during the season.

The police would screen entry of pilgrims to the temple premises with the help of modern electronic gadgets. Watchtowers would be erected at Sannidhanam, Saramkuthi, Pandithavalom and Malikappuram.

Bus services

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will use 70 buses to operate the Pampa-Nilackal chain service during the first phase of the season, the Special Officer Chandrababu said.

The KSRTC had begun Sabarimala special services from Chengannur, Pathanamthitta, Kottarakkara, Thiruvalla, Guruvayur, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Pandalam, Kottayam and Erumeli.

Sanitation drive

The Sabarimala Sanitation Society, chaired by District Collector Ashok Kumar Singh, has started cleaning operations in Pampa and Sannidhanam and on the trekking path.

The Collector distributed the uniforms and identity cards to 522 sanitation workers, recruited with the help of the Ayyappa Seva Sanghom from Kambom, Theni, Salem and Madurai areas of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

Mr. Singh said price monitoring and inspection squads had been deployed in Sabarimala and along the trunk road to Pampa to check fleecing of pilgrims. District Medical Officer N. Damodaran said that the Health Department had opened hospitals at Pampa and Sannidhanam on Wednesday and the cardiology centres at Appachimedu and Neelimala would become functional by Thursday afternoon.