Kerala CM meets Governor, pledges to improve amenities for Sabarimala pilgrims

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday met Governor P. Sathasivam and pledged to improve amenities for the pilgrims visiting the Sabarimala temple, as the two-month season to pay obeisance to Lord Ayyappa peaks.

“During the half-an-hour meeting that began at 12.30 p.m., they discussed the measures taken to address complaints regarding lack of basic amenities like drinking water, toilets and restrooms at Nilackal, Pampa and on way to Sanidhanam,” according to a statement released by the Governor’s office.

The need to improve transport facility between Nilackal and Pampa was also discussed. The Governor also highlighted the grievance expressed by Pon Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping, said the statement.

The two dignitaries also discussed complaints about police action and the possibility of lifting the restrictions imposed through Section 144.

“The Chief Minister has assured the Governor that all these issues will be looked into and acted upon as soon as possible,” added the statement.

The Governor had received written petitions from Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Sabarimala Karma Samithy and a delegation of the Kerala Congress on Wednesday.

An uneasy calm prevails in the temple town as Hindu groups and devotees have been protesting against the September 28 Supreme Court order that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, ending the practice of not allowing girls and women aged 10-50.

The apex court on November 13 refused to stay the September verdict, three days before the temple opened this season.

The Left Democratic Front government led by the CPI-M has been trying to implement the apex court’s verdict even as the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and several Hindu groups are up in arms against it.

On Wednesday, 72 pilgrims who were sent to jail for breaching prohibitory orders and protesting against the entry of women in the menstruating age, were released on bail.

A week after the Sabarimala temple opened for a two-month pilgrimage season, the number of pilgrims has touched a new low due to the protests as well as tight security.

According to official figures, while five lakh pilgrims visited the temple during the opening week in the last season, this time the figure is just 1.42 lakh.