Stampede: Shobha slams Kerala govt

Shobha Karandlaje

Power Minister Shobha Karandlaje on Sunday criticised the Kerala government for the lack of facilities at Sabarimala to cope with the situation arising out of the stampede that killed over a hundred devotees on Friday.

“There seems to be no government in that state,” Karandaje, who returned here from visit to Pulmedu near Sabarimala said.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, the minister came down heavily on the Kerala government for not making proper arrangements for the safety of visitors who throng the temple in lakhs every year.

Poor condition

“I was shocked to see the poor condition of government hospitals in Iduki district. There was no embalming facility even at the district hospital. How do we send bodies to far-off places like Belgaum? We had to send bodies to Kottayam for embalming,” Karandlaje said.

“This is the condition of the district hospital even after 64 years after the country got Independence. I was horrified to see hospitals lacking doctors and paramedical staff even in times of distress. Forget medical facility, there was no lighting.”

She said that some lives could have definitely been saved if there were some basic facilities in the area.

“A Kerala minister told me that the government did not expect three to four lakh people to visit the temple. I wonder what the intelligence wing was doing. There was absolutely no co-ordination between the Police and the Revenue department. It was total mismanagement,” Karandlaje said.

“It is better if Sabiramala is considered as a national pilgrim centre so that funds can come from the Centre to improve infrastructure facilities in the temple area,” she said.

No helipad

She pointed out that the helicopter by which she travelled did not even have a proper place for landing. Eventually the copter landed without the Government permission.

The minister said that from next year onwards, Karnataka should locate a disaster management team in the vicinity of Sabarimala so that it can help devotees from the State who visit the Ayyappa temple, in case they needed help.

Karandlaje, who visited Kumini, close to Pulmedu where a stampede occurred on Friday, to oversee arrangements to bring the bodies of the dead, returned to Bangalore on Sunday evening. 

“A disaster management team and a team of doctors with an ambulance facility should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the Sankranti festival. A call centre should also be set up. I have explained the pathetic situation prevailing in that place and what the State should be doing, to the Chief Minister. I will be writing to the Chief Minister in this regard,” she said.

33 bodies

The minister also said that the bodies of all 33 devotees from Karnataka have been brought back. The Kerala government has announced Rs five lakh each as compensation to the families of those who died. The State and the Centre would be giving Rs one lakh to each family, she added. 

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