Thiruvananthapuram: With the annual pilgrimage season in Sabarimala a month away, the government of Kerala on Wednesday said elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure a safe darshan for pilgrims in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A joint action plan has also been prepared for the same. All basic facilities for the pilgrimage, adhering to social distancing norms according to the government guidelines, are ready at the Lord Ayyappa temple and its premises, state Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan informed the state assembly.
“A joint action plan of the Health and Revenue Departments has been drawn up to address the matters in various sectors including the hospital facilities in Pamba, on the foothills of the hill shrine located in Pathanamthitta and the nearby Erumeli and arrangements for the RT-PCR test”, Radhakrishnan said during the question hour. “However, the government is yet to take a final decision on the number of pilgrims to be permitted for darshan and the relaxation in the existing guidelines,” the minister said.
Review meetings of the concerned departments and the Devaswom Board, the apex temple body which manages the shrine, have been carried out as part of the preparation for the impending pilgrim season. A meeting was also convened to expedite the steps to ensure the availability of enough drinking water, food and toilet facilities in the premises of the shrine and nearby centers connected to the pilgrimage, besides the meetings to finalise the transportation facilities during the two-month-long pilgrim season, the minister added.
This year’s annual pilgrimage season is set to begin on November 16. After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government had imposed strict restrictions for pilgrims to trek the holy Sabarimala and offer worship there.
The number of pilgrims permitted for darshan had also been regulated at the hill temple last year during the season, which otherwise used to witness lakhs of devotees including those from various parts of the country and abroad flocking to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity.