The Travancore Devaswom Board is yet to receive a confirmation on the President’s visit from the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

Confusion prevails over helipad facility for Presidents visit to Sabarimala
news Sabarimala Thursday, January 02, 2020 - 10:25

The Travancore Devaswom Board is in a predicament. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, has expressed his interest to visit Sabarimala temple in Kerala and offer prayers on Monday. After the President lands at the Kochi airport, he will be flown to the temple on a helicopter. However, there is no space to land the helicopter.

Incidentally, Nilakkal, the base camp of Sabarimala, has a helipad. “However, from Nilakkal, he has to travel about 22 km to reach Sannidhanam, either by jeep or any other mode of transport. This, we were told, would be difficult for the President,” N Vasu, president of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), told TNM.

On Kerala government’s request, TDB, which maintains the Sabarimala temple, put forward another alternative arrangement to land the helicopter — the water tank at Pandithavalam, which is closer to Sannidhanam.  

“The water tank is huge and the top surface can be used as a helipad. The engineers have checked the strength of the surface and we have submitted this report to the President’s office to get their clearance. They are yet to revert,” Vasu said.

With only a few days left for the proposed visit, the TDB president said that it would not be possible to set up a new helipad or find another space to land the helicopter. “We have to get clearance from the state forest department for another safe alternative space,” he added.

While the state government has communicated this to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, “We have not received an official confirmation about his darshan at Sabarimala until Thursday morning,” the TDB president said.

According to the Times of India, a senior police official said that the President is visiting Kochi on Sunday before heading to Lakshadweep. The President would not be able to climb the temple due to security reasons and hence even the police have not received any confirmation yet, the report said.

Sabarimala temple opened its doors for its annual Makaravilakku festival on Monday, and will remain open until January 21. Around 1,397 police personnel, a quick response team and a bomb squad have been deployed around the temple premises

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