Thiruvananthapuram | The Kerala government on Tuesday announced a slew of measures for a smooth pilgrimage to the state's famous Lord Ayyappa temple including the constitution of a Sabarimala Development Authority to coordinate and implement the activities envisaged in the Master Plan for the hill shrine.
The decision was taken in a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here.
The meeting decided to allot early morning slots to those who wish to offer Neyyabhishekam (ablution of the deity with ghee) by giving them an opportunity to register their desire for it at the time of virtual queue booking.
An official statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said, RFID (radio frequency identification reader) scanners will be installed at various centres from Pampa to Sannidhanam, Pathinettampadi (18 divine steps), and in front of the shrine.
When the pilgrims register for the virtual queue darshan, they will receive a text message on their mobile phone about the shelters en route to the temple and important things to be aware of during the pilgrimage.
Kananapatha (forest route) will be opened for the pilgrims, it said.
The meeting decided to build comprehensive software to digitize the entire process from virtual queue booking to prasad distribution.
"A pass containing a QR code that works through the RFID system will be issued. A system will be set up to automatically scan the QR code at important locations. The Travancore Devaswom Board has been directed to submit a detailed report in this regard within a month," the statement said.
It further said necessary arrangements will be made in consultation with the tantri (chief priest) to ensure smooth darshan for every devotee standing in queue for hours.
A digital system will be introduced for donations and payments will be transferred to the digital system, the statement added.
The meeting also decided to make arrangements to prevent interruption of the power supply in and around Sannidhanam and erect new concrete bars through the forest route after removing those in dangerous conditions.
The Chief Minister suggested that concerned banks should be consulted to provide Sabarimala special debit cards to the devotees which can be used instead of cash at commercial establishments and toilet complexes in areas like Nilakkal, Pampa, and Sannidhanam.
Besides these, the meeting also decided to seriously consider allocating land for south Indian states including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana for setting up guest houses in Nilakkal. In this regard, the Advocate General will be consulted to vacate the existing stay in the Kerala High Court, it added.
Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan, Revenue Minister K Rajan, Health Minister Veena George, Transport Minister Antony Raju, Chief Secretary V P Joy and state Police chief Anil Kant attended the meeting.