Will take crowd control steps at Sabarimala: Kerala to court

Friday, January 21, 2011

KOCHI - The Kerala government Friday told the high court that several steps would be taken to control the large crowds during the two-month pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple while the police would probe the “real cause” of the Jan 14 stampede near the shrine that claimed 102 lives.

The government filed an affidavit after a deeply concerned Kerala High Court Jan 17 took suo moto cognisance of the stampede and asked for a report on the tragedy and its cause.

The government told the court that it would implement the 2007 report submitted by Justice (retd) K.S. Paripoornan that had given 70 recommendations.

“The ongoing Crime Branch probe will come out with the real cause of the stampede. Adequate steps will now be put in place for making elaborate security arrangements at the Nilackal base camp and a new two-storey queue complex would also be constructed near the temple,” the affidavit said.

“We will also see if a new overbridge behind the temple can be constructed to reduce the crowding of pilgrims when they approach the temple,” it added.

These issues would now be taken up by the division bench Monday.

The stampede occurred around 8 p.m. Jan 14 when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the two-month pilgrimage, from a hillock in pulumedu some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.

State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the government would fully cooperate with the high court.

“We are now awaiting the observations that would be made by the high court,” said Balakrishnan.

Forest Minister Binoy Viswan, meanwhile, said that an inquiry will be launched into allegations of police and forest officials collecting money from vehicles coming into the Pulumedu area on the day of the tragedy.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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