Pathanamthitta: With the annual pilgrimage all set to start, hectic preparations are underway at various locations near Sabarimala to welcome devotees. For instance, final touches are being given to the ‘edathavalam’ (shelter) arranged by the Pathanamthitta Municipality.
“The painting has been completed and only the cleaning work remains,” said Roslin Santhosh, chairperson of the municipality. Facilities have been arranged for pilgrims to spend the night at the ‘edathavalam’ as well as the Bus Stand, she added.
Measures taken by the municipality include setting up allopathy and homoeo clinics at the edathavalam; installing street lights at roads leading to the shelter and all public roads, and making the edathavalam ground, which is slushy now, suitable for parking.
As in previous years, the Ayyappa Seva Sangham would carry out the free distribution of food at the edathavalam.
Meanwhile, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s (KSRTC) bus station at Pamba would start functioning from November 14, said authorities. The main services to Pamba would be from Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Erumely and Kottarakkara. In addition, direct buses would ply from Guruvayur, Kumaly, Sarkkara Temple and Ochira.
KSRTC’s various depots across the state have been asked to conduct Sabarimala services only if there are at least 40 passengers. An order issued by the chairman and managing director warned the officials concerned at the depots that in case services are operated with fewer passengers, they would be answerable for the losses.
To ease the travel woes of passengers, as many as 150 buses would be allotted to conduct the Nilakkal-Pamba chain services. Of these buses, 110 would be non-AC and the remaining AC.
Special services from Kottayam and all districts to the north would take the Erumeli-Kanamala route. Earlier, they used to ply via Pathanamthitta. Meanwhile, buses from Malabar area would reach Pamba along Angamaly, Muvattupuzha, Koothattukulam, Kottayam and Erumely.
Special Pamba services have been arranged from Kottarakkara Ganapathy Temple, Pazhavangady Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Ochira Parabrahma Temple, Guruvayur Temple and the railway stations at Kottayam, Chengannur and Ernakulam South.
Return reservation facility too would be available at Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam KSRTC depots.
On the other hand, the authorities have given no thought to the pedestrians on the Sabarimala route. With vehicles carrying pilgrims all set to choke every road to the temple, local people, including school students, would have a hard time walking along the roadsides. The plight of the locals and pedestrian pilgrims would be aggravated as most of the roadsides are overgrown with weeds and shrubs, making walking impossible. At many spots, the greenery has even invaded the tarred portion of the road.
The situation is worse along the Punalur-Muvattupuzha, Mandiram-Vadasserikkara, Mukkada-Edamon-Athikkayam, Cherukolpuzha-Ranni and Ranni-Kozhenchery stretches.
According to the authorities, a lack of funds prevents them from clearing the weeds.