Lessons unlearnt: Sabarimala still not ready for pilgrim rush?
- Though the number of the injured in the Sunday's accident was less than 40, the hospital could not provide treatment to all the victims.
- The hospital has no X-ray facility or intensive care facility.
- The pilgrilms who suffered suffocation had to be rushed to Pampa Govt. Hospital, six kilometres down the hill.
Sabarimala Dharma Sastha Temple witnessed the worst tragedy in its history on 14 January 2011 when over 100 pilgrims perished and dozens injured in a stamapede near Vandipperiyar when the devotees were returning after witnessing Makaravilakku festival.
As the temple prepares for another Makaravilakku and a massive rush in January, the hill shrine witnessed another accident on Sunday. Over 30 pilgrims were left injured in the incident which brought back the worst fears of 2011 and exposed the holes in the security arrangements at the temple.
The Special Branch blamed the police for its lapse in ensuring the safety of the pilgrims. The DGP alleged that the Devasom Board for not taking heed to its warning that the old barricades should be replaced with stronger one. There were only nine policemen at the spot to manage thousands of pilgrims. And in the absence of a strong barricade, they were using just a rope to stop the pilgrims from falling off the tricky slopes at the forest temple.
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Apart from the blame game, what is appalling most is the fact that the temple authorities and the government conveniently forgot the Vandipperiyar tragedy.
Despite being one of the busiest pilgrim spots, the nearest hospital at Sannidhanam remain ill-equipped to meet an emergency of catastrophic proportion. Though the number of the injured in the Sunday's accident was less than 40, the hospital could not provide treatment to all the victims. The hospital has no X-ray facility or intensive care facility. The pilgrilms who suffered suffocation had to be rushed to Pampa Govt. Hospital, six kilometres down the hill.
There were reports that that the government would deploy Indian Air Force helicopters for ensuring security in the forest shrine.
The accident once again proved that the authorities were unprepared for emergencies and the claims that everything was in place for the safety of pilgrims just a chimaera.