KERALA

Photo ID cards for Sabarimala employees

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM NOV. 10. The Devaswom Minister, G. Karthikeyan, has said that the security system in Sabarimala during the festival season would be beefed up. As part of these arrangements, photo-identity cards would be issued to all those employed in Sabarimala, including the employees of those who work in stalls and other commercial establishment.

In a statement at the head of the festival season, the Minister said that display of photo-identity cards had been made mandatory for all the employees. Devaswom employees would have to wear special uniforms. He said the KSRTC would operate special bus services from various centres as per requirement. Special arrangements have been made for pilgrims to rest at the KSRTC depots in places like Kottayam, Chenganoor, and Pathanamthitta. Arrangements have been also made for pilgrims taking the Erumeli route.

The other features of this year's pilgrim season is free food for pilgrims arriving at Sabarimala, the ban on plastic to be strictly enforced, better health and drinking water facilities, mobile phone facilities, etc. He said that all roads leading to Sabarimala had been repaired, even though work began a bit late. Elaborate arrangements had been made at Nilackal, where 50 acres of land belonging to the State Farming Corporation would be utilised for parking of vehicles. All big vehicles would be required to park at Nilackal after dropping pilgrims at Pampa. The KSRTC would operate chain services to take the pilgrims who arrive in larger vehicles to Nilackal.. Special buses would be operated on the Pampa-Nilakkal route. This arrangement would help the authorities to avert traffic bottlenecks in Pampa, while at the same time, more space would be available for smaller vehicles to park in Pampa. There would be no parking fee, he said.

Mr. Karthikeyan said arrangements had been made at the Pathanamthitta district hospitals and other hospitals nearby to provide medical assistance to the pilgrims. These hospitals would function for 24 hours. Mobile dispensaries would also offer services.

A 24-hour cardiology unit each has started functioning at Appachimedu and Neelimala. Another cardiology centre with all the latest apparatus would function at Pampa under the auspices of the Amritha Institute. At Erumeli, the P.N.P Memorial Hindu Medical Mission is cooperating with the Devaswom in setting up a hospital with all modern facilities.

Around 12 oxygen parlours would function on the Pampa-Sannidhanam route in order to offer services to pilgrims who face suffocation while climbing the Sabari hills. In addition to allopathy, homoeopathy and Ayurvedic wings would function at the hospitals.

The Minister said that steps had been taken to ensure drinking water supply. Water purification plant using pressure filter system has been installed.

Efforts would be made to reach drinking water to all places by establishing temporary pipelines and taps wherever necessary. Water would be supplied in tanks in outlying areas. He said that in order to provide more resting places for the pilgrims en route to the Sannidhanam, the Government had this year decided to reduce the number of shops and stalls here. The rush at Marakootam would be considerably less on account of the new flyover. Repairs have been carried out on the Swami Aiyyappan road and the Marakootam-Chandranandan road.

Mr. Karthikeyan said that sewage treatment plants had started functioning and this had made it possible to tackle the problem of sewage treatment.

The ban on plastic would be strictly implemented. Around 450 persons would be deployed for sanitation work under the Sanitation Society.

With a view to ensure the quality of foodstuff available at the pilgrim centre, the State Government had made arrangements to conduct strict inspections. The prices of food articles would also be kept under control, he said.

The Devaswom Board had taken steps to issue tickets for `Neyyabhishekam' at other important temples under it.

This would enable the pilgrims to save considerable time. He said that BSNL would offer mobile phone services, while more STD booths would be opened, especially at Llaha and Nilackal. A computerised railway booking counter would be opened at Pampa. The railways would also operate additional train services to meet the rush on account of the pilgrim season. The Minister urged the pilgrims to cooperate with the Government's efforts to make their pilgrimage smooth.

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