Sabarimala: Arranging extra facilities for women a challenge for Govt
Sabarimala: Arranging extra facilities for women a challenge for Govt

Sabarimala: Arranging extra facilities for women a challenge for Govt

Pathanamthitta: With the historic verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of all age groups to enter the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala, arranging more security and women-friendly facilities in Pamba, Nilakkal and Sabarimala before the next pilgrimage season could be a major challenge for the government and Devaswom Board.

As per the statistics of the Devaswom Board, the rush in Sabarimala is likely to increase by 40 percent in the new season. Arranging more facilities is a challenge because the temple is located in Periyar Tiger Sanctuary and has limited space.

Only 45 days are left for the next pilgrimage season which is to be started by middle of November. The government and the board are confronted with the new challenge amid the mission to rebuild Pamba devastated in the flood.

In normal days, about 1-2 lakhs of devotees arrive at Sabarimala which is increased to 3 lakhs on special occasions and about 5 lakhs on Makaravilakku days. In one minute, 36-50 persons can ascend the 18 steps in Sabarimala.

This can increase to 92 per minute, if police took more effort for it when there is long queue. The width of the 18 steps, which is determined as per the customs, cannot be increased and so the rush is controlled by extending time for darshan.

Devotees are allowed to have darshan five days in every Malayalam month and Onam and Vishu seasons each, 10 days during festival season and from mid-November to January 20 during Mandala, Makaravilakku seasons.

Presently, the Devaswom board has 59 acre of land in the temple premises. Considering the paths taken by pilgrims, the board has demanded 100 more acres of land. Since Nilakkal is the major camp of the pilgrims, the shelter facility for an additional 16,000 persons has to be arranged.

About 20 lakh litres of drinking water will be required per day, and this is five lakh litre more than the normal requirement. Presently, there are 1500 toilets in the temple premises, 1000 in Pamba and 525 in Nilakkal, and this have to be doubled by next season.

At present, 100 toilets are reserved for women in Pamba and temple premises each. The construction of more toilets and shelters have to be included in Rs 100 crore worth KIIFB project.

About 3000 police officers and other security forces are deployed in Sabarimala for security every year. This is likely to increase to 5000 this year. Also women police officers and staff will be on duty.

The observation centre set up in Pamba in order to block women entering the temple will be removed. The women blocked at the temple premises used to be lodged at the guard room until their companions returned after having darshan.

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