Kerala HC looking into medical facilities along Neelimala-Appachimedu route, excess bus fare charged from pilgrims by KSRTC
The Kerala High Court has sought the stand of the state government with regard to the medical facilities that would be made available on the Neelimala-Appachimedu route, if it is opened, to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.
The court also sought the stand of the state government and Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) with regard to pilgrims' complaints that excess bus fare was being collected from them and sufficient numbers of buses were not being provided.
These issues were brought to the court's attention in the reports submitted by the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala.
Based on the reports, the high court initiated two writ petitions on its own -- one to deal with the issue of medical facilities that need to be provided to pilgrims if the additional Neelimala-Appachimedu route to the Lord Ayyappa temple is opened and the second regarding the KSRTC services.
As part of the second petition, the court is also considering the suggestions in the report to increase verification counters at Nilakkal to verify the vaccination certificates and Virtual-Q coupons of the pilgrims arriving there before being transported to Pamba at the foothills of Sabarimala.
The Special Commissioner, Sabarimala, in one of his reports, has said that if the additional route to the temple is opened then cardiologists and physicians will have to be posted at Neelimala and Appachimedu cardiology centres and sufficient number of Emergency Medical Centres will also have to be set up along the trek path.
In another report, he has said that complaints have been received from pilgrims that KSRTC was collecting excess fare from them and not providing an adequate number of buses.
The one-way ticket fare from Nilakkal to Pamba in low floor non A/C buses is Rs 50 and that for A/C buses is Rs 80.
The report also said that the verification of Virtual-Q coupons and COVID vaccination/test certificates was also causing delay.
It suggested that if police can arrange more verification counters at Nilakkal, the delay can be minimised.
The court listed both matters for further hearing on December 6, by when the state government and the other authorities in the party array have to come with instructions on the issues raised in the Special Commissioner's reports.
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