TDB seeks to impose service charge for online bookings in Sabarimala

In the grip of a continuing wave of bogus bookings, the Travancore Devaswom board of directors has sought to impose a service charge for online bookings of wait times in Sabarimala.

According to N. Vasu, chairman of TDB, suspicions of an organized attempt to sabotage the Sabarimala pilgrimage grew even stronger during the monthly five-day puja, which ended on Wednesday. “Despite increasing the daily pilgrim limit to 10,000, just 11,000 devotees visited the temple during those days. Daily bookings, on the other hand, were well over 6,000, ”he said.

Booking virtual queue seats for Sabarimala darsan is done through the website, an initiative of the Kerala Police.

The current COVID-19 situation in Kerala and the conditions under which worshipers must either be vaccinated or have RT-PCR certificates with them may have affected the influx from neighboring states this season. “But still, the queue slots have seen massive bookings within hours of the site opening, only to be canceled later. The imposition of service fees can effectively curb this trend and discussions are going in this direction, ”he explained.

As to whether the Council raised the matter with the authorities concerned, Mr. Vasu replied in the affirmative and considered that it was now up to the faithful to file a complaint with the police. The virtual queue is still managed by the state police and as its role is to ensure the law and order situation in the temple, the board has no intention of taking over the system. , he added.

Official sources, meanwhile, also attributed the drop in attendance to a delay by the state government in increasing the daily limit for the number of pilgrims to Sabarimala to 10,000. “On instruction from the High Court in Kerala, the cap was raised to 10,000 as of March of this year. But when the temple reopened to worshipers after a two-month gap, the limit was set at 5,000 and it was only revised once more on the first day of reopening, ”said a senior TBD official. .

However, he too seemed equally suspicious of attempts to limit the participation of pilgrims through false reservations.

The false bookings issues first surfaced in March this year when Sabarimala’s Special Commissioner Mr Manoj submitted a report to the High Court on the issues of underutilization of the virtual queue system. in Sabarimala. Stating that some people who booked virtual queue slots were deliberately not showing up at the temple, the report also pointed out that blocking virtual queue slots has also usurped the opportunity for true worshipers.

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