UDF seeks VS’ intervention

Special Correspondent

To address problems faced by Sabarimala pilgrims

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders on Monday met Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and sought his intervention in resolving the problems faced by Sabarimala pilgrims.

The Chief Minister later told mediapersons that the Government would take all steps to address the issues before the Makaravilakku season begins. Steps had been taken to improve health services at Sabarimala and this process would be completed by December 31, he said.

The UDF delegation, led by Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, said there was lack of coordination between various departments. The Government had failed in ensuring a smooth pilgrimage. There were differences of opinion between the Government and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), as well as between members of the Board. The officials have been caught in the crossfire and are reluctant to take decisions. The State government was unable to take clear decisions and implement them, he said.

The UDF delegation pointed out the lack of sanitation in the hill temple. The District Collector had so far not taken a decision to appoint temporary cleaning staff. In the previous years, the Collector had been authorised to appoint the necessary hands to carry out cleaning operations, the delegation said.

Pilgrims have to wait for 12 to 18 hours in queue for darshan. Basic facilities, toilets and drinking water are not available. Water should be released from the Anathottam and Kochu Pampa dams to increase the flow in the Pampa. The curbs on aravana distribution had forced pilgrims to stand in queue for hours together. The Government had also failed to appoint sufficient number of policemen and the lack of supervision from the higher-ups in the department was also evident.

Mr. Chandy said the Opposition had urged the Chief Minister to take immediate decision on the implementing the Sabarimala Master Plan in a time-bound manner. The Government should take an early decision on establishing a queue complex modelled after the facility in Tirupati. The previous UDF Government had released 120 hectares of land at Nilackal and 12.675 hectares of land at Sannidhanam for providing more facilities. He said the UDF had also demanded more facilities for pilgrims who arrive at the hill temple through Erumeli.

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