Kochi: With the inflow of Sabarimala pilgrims from other states increasing, the Railway Protection Force of the Thiruvananthapuram division has deployed over 100 personnel from neighbouring states at important stations like Ernakulam and Kottayam.
“The inflow of devotes from other states has begun. The biggest problem we face is communication and also their exploitation by touts. So we’ve deployed personnel from Chennai, Madurai and Trichy units who are well-versed in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. Twenty personnel have been deployed at Ernakulam South station alone,” a top RPF official said.
The devotees can approach these personnel for guidance regarding route and vehicle availability. Often, the touts canvass the pilgrims and charge exorbitant rates to drop them at Pampa in tourist vehicles.
“Rates have been fixed and the railways has given passes to select tourist vans. Besides, the KSRTC is also running buses for pilgrim groups from these railway stations. So we’ll take strict action against those canvassing the pilgrims to use other vehicles,” the official said.
The railways is operating 90 special trains mostly from Andhra Pradesh and Chennai during the season. Even the Kerala police have sought deployment of personnel from their counterparts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu at Pampa and Sabarimala temple premises.