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Kerala High Court issues directions to curb Sabarimala overcrowding [Read Order]

By Rintu Mariam      12 December, 2023 04:44 PM      0 Comments
Kerala High Court issues directions to curb Sabarimala overcrowding

KOCHI: In order to control overcrowding and unauthorised entry at the Sabarimala during the upcoming festival season, the Kerala High Court has issued certain directions to respective authorities. 

The directions were issued by Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajith Kumar.


• The Chief Police Co-ordinator is directed to ensure that there is no overcrowding of the pilgrims in the pilgrim sheds and queue complexes. 
• The Special Officer, Travancore Devaswom Board and the Executive Magistrate in the office of the Special  Commissioner, Sabarimala to take necessary steps to ensure that the pilgrims in the pilgrim sheds and queue complexes are provided with ‘chukku vellam’ and biscuits and that there is no overcrowding of pilgrims. 
• They shall take special care in the case of women and children of tender age. 
• The Travancore Devaswom Board to ensure that a sufficient number of volunteers are deployed at places where the pilgrims are stranded in the queue, for their support. 
• The directions in the orders of this Court on crowd management at Nilakkal, Pamba and Sannidhanam to be complied with in letter and spirit by the officers concerned.
• The District Collector, Pathanamthitta and the District Police Chief, Pathanamthitta to take necessary steps to ensure the availability of a sufficient number of KSRTC vehicles at the boarding points at Nilakkal and Pamba during MandalaMakaravilakku festival season. 
• The Police and the Enforcement Officers in the Motor Vehicles Department to ensure that the vehicles used by KSRTC for Nilakkal-Pamba chain service are carrying only passengers within the permissible limit. 


The Court further added, 

“Under the provisions of Sections 15A and 31 of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950 the Travancore Devaswom Board has a statutory duty to see that the regular traditional rites and ceremonies according to the practice prevalent in Sabarimala are performed promptly; to monitor whether the administrative officials and the employees, and also the employees connected with religious rites are functioning properly; and to establish and maintain proper facilities in Sabarimala for the devotees.”

The Court was hearing petitions which highlighted issues pertaining to crowd management and other matters in connection with MandalaMakaravilakku festival season at Sabarimala.

When the Court took up matters for hearing yesterday, two advocates, Lekha Suresh and Raman Kartha, shared the difficulties faced by them at Sabarimala during their recent visit. 

In its previous orders too, the Court had noted that when the average footfall at Sabarimala reaches 80,000-90,000 pilgrims per day, 70-80 pilgrims will have to move through ‘Pathinettampadi’ in a minute. During the current MandalaMakaravilakku festival season, nearly 20% of the total number of pilgrims are women and children of tender age. In addition to this, there are senior citizens and persons with disability, who require more attention while climbing ‘Pathinettampadi’. 

When the total footfall per day reaches 90,000, the pilgrims, who reach Sabarimala based on virtual-Q online booking have to wait in the queue for a considerably long period for darshan, since the average spot booking even crosses 20,000. When the darshan timing was 17 hours a day, the maximum number of pilgrims who can climb ‘Pathinettampadi’ when the temple remains open will be 76,500.

Based on the opinion of the Thantri of Sabarimala Sree Dharma Satha Temple, the Standing Counsel for Travancore Devaswom Board submitted that the temple timing has been increased from 17 hours a day to 18 hours. Even when the temple remains closed, the pilgrims are permitted to climb ‘Pathinettampadi’ for about 4 hours. 

It was further stated that steps had already been taken to ensure that there is no overcrowding of pilgrims in the pilgrim sheds and queue complexes in consonance with the Court’s earlier orders. 

Also, a decision had been taken to restrict the number of Virtual-Q bookings to 80,000, the Court was told. 

The Senior Government Pleader, on instructions from the Chief Police Co-ordinator, Sannidhanam told the Bench that that a sufficient number of police personnel had been deployed to avoid infiltration and queue jumping. 

A special queue for children, aged persons and persons with disabilities also had been opened at Sector No.9. He further informed that routes through forest land which caused unauthorised entry of pilgrims to Sabarimala have been sealed by the forest officials.

The various issues regarding parking of vehicles at Nilakkal parking grounds were also apprised by the government pleader. 

Hearing this, the Court directed the Regional Transport Officer (Enforcement) Pathanamthitta, to conduct an inspection of the parking grounds at Nilakkal and submit a report before this Court on effective management of those parking grounds by accommodating the maximum number of vehicles. 

“The said report shall also deal with the regulation of vehicular traffic from Elavunkal to Kanamala and Elavunkal to Laha, when the movement of vehicles is regulated by ‘hold and release’ mechanism. The said report shall also deal with places other than Sabarimala Edathavalams, where the vehicles can be parked when the traffic is regulated by ‘hold and release’ mechanism, where there are shops and other facilities”, the Bench added. 

The Government Pleader also told that the Chief Police Co-ordinator would be personally be present in Court on December 12 to explain various issues on crowd management at Sabarimala.

[Read Order]



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