Govt,temple board draw flak for neglect of reports

Thiruvananthapuram:As Kerala is slowly recovering from the shock of the Sabarimala stampede tragedy that claimed 102 lives, the state government and the temple board are facing criticism for neglect of the report of the panel that probed the 1998 mishap and the proposals for developing alternate routes to check disasters recurring at the hillshrine.

The opposition parties and the Hindu outfits today alleged that the Pullumedu disaster could have been avoided if the recommendations of the judicial probe into the 1998 tragedy have been implemented in right earnest.

On January 14, 1998, 52 pilgrims, mostly from Andhra Pradesh, were killed in a stampede at Pampa,the river-bank base camp on the foothills of Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple.

Justice Chandrasekhara Menon, who probed the tragedy, in his report had suggested the need to provide basic amenities on the Pullumedu route, through which a large number of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu pass up and down the shrine.

The report had pointed out that over 60 per cent of devotees coming to Sabarimala during the pilgrimage season are from other states and this route provide them easy access to temple towns like Madurai on their return journey.

The panel also made a strong case for developing Vandiperiyar route through which at least 40 per cent of pilgrims could be diverted to avoid huge rush and latent dangers along the Pampa route.

However, the report had made it clear without assuring basic facilities and security pilgrims should not be allowed to trek through the Pullumedu route.

According VHP state general secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan the Government and the Travancore Deveswom Board (TDB) had been sleeping on the commission report all these years.

"The announcement of a judicial probe into yesterday`s tragedy by Chief Minister is only a ritual. What is the use of such probes if the proposals made by the earlier one is totally neglected", Rajasekharan told PTI.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Oommen Chandy held that the government did not start the work on a transit camp even though the land for such a facility had been identified five years back by the then UDF Government.