TDB ill-prepared for colossal flow of Sabarimala pilgrims
By Abhilash Chandran | ENS - KOTTAYAM
11th November 2012 09:44 AM
With hardly a week left for the commencement of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, various government departments, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), other agencies and private traders and vendorsare busy trying to complete their works on a war footing.
While the traders have started erecting makeshift sheds, shops and refreshment counters at different places across the state, especially at Erumely, Pampa, Nilakkal and Sannidhanam, the TDB and various government departments are still ill-prepared to receive the colossal inflow of pilgrims.
Barring the development work on some roads that lead to Erumely and Pampa, the infrastructure facilities are too weak to meet the huge flow of pilgrims that comes to around two to three crores, with an annual increase of 10 to 20 per cent every year.
The repairing and maintenance of arterial roads, including some parts of National Highways 47 and 49, Main Central Road and Muvattupuzha-Punalur KSTP Road, setting up of basic amenities, including ablutions, and establishing facilities at mid centres and passenger hubs are being done on a war footing to reach the finishing point.
Starting with Kottayam Railway station, the gateway to the Hill Shrine, it is on an uphill battle to prepare itself to receive the flow of pilgrims as it has failed to meet the deadline to complete the much-touted pilgrim shelter on the station premises.
The work on the shelter, which commenced on June 20, 2012 and expected to finish before this season, is not yet over. The workers are trying hard to arrange basic facilities by completing at least the construction of ablution area as the pre-existed latrines and bathrooms on the station premises were removed to build the new pilgrim shelter.
Apart from the multi-lingual information centres at Kottayam and Chengannur, the Railways could not provide any additional facilities at the Kottayam, Tiruvalla and Chengannur stations.
Meanwhile, the KSRTC, which gets an additional income of around `15 crore each season, has already made arrangements by earmarking around 1,500 buses for Sabarimala services.
According to KSRTC special officer for Sabarimala Easter Yashica, a total of 300 buses has been allotted for the Sabarimala services in the first phase.
“We could provide maximum buses according to the demands of various depots. Kottayam and Chengannur depots have been given 28 and 34 buses respectively.
“Also, 99 buses have been allotted for the Nilakkal-Pampa chain services and 10 inter-state buses for Pampa,” he said.
However, while KSRTC introduced a total of 200 new buses during the previous pilgrim season, only 60 new buses were rolled out this year.
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