High-powered panel to take call on opening traditional forest routes to Sabarimala

Sabarimala temple

Only after a detailed security review meeting will the state government take a decision on allowing pilgrims to trek Sabarimala through traditional forest paths of Erumely-Azhutha-Karimala and Kumili-Uppupara-Pulmedu, said top-level police officers.

Most likely the state police will oppose the opening of Kumili-Uppupara-Pulmedu route considering the volatile law and order situation in Sabarimala after Hindu outfits and the BJP have launched protest against the Supreme Court verdict allowing entry of women in all ages to Sabarimala. Police officers said opening up of the two trekking routes to Sabarimala will further worsen the law and order situation.
“It’s a tough proposition to deploy police personnel along the two routes to ensure a tight law and order situation. We will also present a proposal before the high-power committee to not allow women pilgrims aged between 10 and 50 to trek through Erumely-Azhutha-Karimala and Kumili-Uppupara-Pulmedu routes,” a senior police officer said.

Erumeli Range Forest Officer Jayakumar N V said they have not yet received any official communication on the opening of routes. “The high-power committee meeting will only take a call on finalising the dates to open the forest trekking route,” he added. If the government decides to bring in restriction on pilgrim movement through the two routes during the annual pilgrimage season, it will evoke a wide-spread protests as large number of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu depend on these trek routes to visit the temple.
The traditional forest route of Erumely-Azhutha-Karimala covering a distance of about 30 km through Kallidamkunnu, Karimala and Valiyanavattom, is spread over Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts.

The trek through the Sathram-Pulmedu-Sannidhanam forest route will not be convenient for the pilgrims this season as authorities are yet to take a call on providing basic facilities, including potable water. The Pulmedu route is opted by a majority of pilgrims from neighbouring states as the alternative route via Vandipperiyar Sathram is a difficult path and has a heavy presence of wild animals.