Sabarimala: As the police struggle to control the heavy rush of pilgrims thronging the Sabarimala temple, authorities have decided to cut the virtual queue booking limit by 10,000 to 80,000 per day as a crowd-control measure to prevent untoward incidents like a stampede.
The measure was taken following urgent parleys between Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) President P S Prasanth on Saturday evening in the wake of the heavy rush of pilgrims, especially from neighbouring states, since Friday night.
Earlier in the day, police failed to control the crowd waiting in queues for long hours to get a darshan of Lord Ayyappa, as pilgrims started to break fences and take shortcuts through forest paths, rendering the queue system ineffective.
However, the pilgrims can continue to make spot bookings at pre-designated locations as earlier. Prashant brushed aside charges of lack of basic facilities for devotees saying all arrangements have been made at Nilackal, Pampa, and Sannidhanam.
The dynamic queue system launched by the Board has become fully functional at the Marakuttam queue complex and has helped control the rush of devotees to a great extent, he added.
The police, meanwhile, started regulating vehicles carrying pilgrims at different points en route to Sabarimala. A long queue of vehicles could be seen along the forest route from Nilackal to Thulappally. The Erumely town, a key base station to the hill temple, too is witnessing heavy rush as traffic movement was affected.
Authorities also deployed an additional ambulance at Sannidhanam in case of multiple medical emergencies. A 12-year-old girl collapsed while waiting for darshan at Appachimedu at 4.15 pm and died at Pampa Hospital an hour later. Doctors said the child was suffering from a heart ailment.