Police restriction on chartered buses flayed

PATHANAMTHITTA Dec. 7. The Special Commissioner at Sabarimala, appointed by the Kerala High Court, D. Sreevallabhan, today said that the restrictions imposed by the police on the entry of chartered buses to Pampa from the Nilackal parking grounds, have been causing much hardship to the pilgrims who reach Sabarimala in groups from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Talking to The Hindu here, Mr. Sreevallabhan said the feedback he got from pilgrims on the new traffic arrangements and the introduction of chain services between Pampa and Nilackal, was quite disheartening.

Many pilgrims from the neighbouring States, especially the elderly ones, have lamented on the inconvenience and hardship posed by the police ban on the entry of their chartered buses from Nilackal to pick them up, when they return to Pampa after the strenuous trek and holy darshan, he said.

The Special Commissioner said the police should lift the restrictions on the entry of buses to Pampa from the Nilackal parking lots with a view to minimise the inconvenience to the pilgrims.

The KSRTC should stop the chain services between Pampa and Nilackal and utilise them for operating more services to different destinations in the larger interests of the pilgrims. The KSRTC has been pressing into service 70 buses for the Pampa-Nilackal chain service alone since the past few weeks and the hapless pilgrims have to spend an `extra' Rs.10 towards bus fare, because of the new restrictions on the chartered buses.

In the previous years, the police used to give a wireless message to the Nilackal parking grounds to call the vehicles parked there to Pampa on the pilgrims' request, when they return from Sannidhanam. Mr. Sreevallabhan said that it was better to continue the same system and avoid inconvenience to the pilgrims.

The Special Commissioner suggested that the police out- post to issue parking passes to vehicles should be shifted from Chalakkayam to Pampa u-turn, with a view to ease traffic congestion on the Nilackal-Chalakkayam road, owing to the reported delay in issuing the pass at the toll gate.

He said the police could better issue the parking passes at the vehicle bays at the u-turn at Pampa, while the pilgrims alight there to proceed to Sannidhanam. He also suggested setting up of three u-turns at the Pampa parking grounds with vehicle bays on either side.

Mr. Sreevallabhan said that the TDB tollgate at Plappallay exclusively for the heavy vehicles should be closed and instead, more counters should be opened at Chalakkayam. The feedback from the pilgrims shows that the new tollgate is rather an inconvenience to them. Many pilgrims have suggested that the shifting of the police counter to issue parking passes to Pampa would be of great help in easing the traffic congestion on the road, he added.

The Special Commissioner said the police could issue a token to the chartered buses parked at Nilackal to restrict their repeated entry to Pampa in the name of picking up pilgrims from there.

It is also learnt that the Commissioner has reported the inconvenience of the pilgrims at Nilackal, Chalakkayam and Pampa to the High Court too, as the police stick to its stand that no chartered buses be permitted to pick up pilgrims from Pampa on their return from Sannidhanam.

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