Adequate facilities sought for Aiyyappa devotees

Coimbatore,Jan13(PTI) The Sabarimala Aiyyappa Seva Samajam,formed for the well-being of Aiyyappa devotees, today appealedto both Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments to provide adequatefacilities for devotees, who were "suffering from untoldmiseries" during their pilgrimage to the hill shrine.

Considering the increasing number of pilgrims year onyear, facilities like toilets and shelters were becominginadequate resulting indiscriminate usage of the sides ofpathway creating a polluted atmosphere, R V S Marimuthu,president of Samajam, Tamil Nadu unit, told reporters here.

Besides,condition of approach roads were becoming worse forthe movement of the devotees,he said.

Claiming that an average of two to three lakhs pilgrimsvisited the shrine every day during the peak period inDecember and January, Marimuthu alleged there was no effectivecrowd controlling measures.The government or board shouldprovide compensation to the injured of dead devotees, he said.

He said the open space available around the sanctumsanctorum was overcrowded by pilgrims.There was no scope for apeaceful darshan of the deity and the 18 steps accommodatingthe ticket counters and prasadam distribution centres wereovercrowded with mad rush resulting in the pilgrims fallinginto the Agnikundam (Fireplace),he said.

The Devaswom Board, administering the shrine, should takesteps to provide hygienically prepared packed foods to thepilgrims, besides providing protected drinking water.First aidand medical centres should be located all along the routeswithin easy reach, he said.

The devotees were not asking money to visit the hillshrine, as given to other communities to visit Mecca orIsrael, but only basic facilities, he said.

Since more than 60 per cent of the pilgrims were fromTamil Nadu, the state Chief Minister should write to hisKerala counterpart to provide the facilities, as wassuccessfully done in the case of getting holiday for Pongalfestival in the districts on Tamil Nadu-Kerala border,he said.

After the executive meeting of the samajam in February, itwould submit memorandum to both the Governments,he added.

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