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Another amenity: Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran inspecting the old helipad at the Nilackal base camp near Pampa on his way to Sabarimala on Wednesday.
SABARIMALA: For the first time in the history of Sabarimala, pilgrims visiting the Lord Ayyappa temple from abroad as well as various other Indian States are likely to get air travel facility up to Nilackal, a base camp situated 20 km from Pampa at the foothills of Sabarimala.
Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran said Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) had approached the government on behalf of a Bangalore-based company, Bharat Air Travels Private Limited, for clearance to operate passenger helicopter services between the Cochin airport and Nilackal during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.
The Bangalore-based company had expressed interest in including Sabarimala on its list of major pilgrim centres to be air-linked.
In a report to the government, the State police had suggested helipads at Nilackal and Saramkutti for emergency evacuation in the event of an accident during the pilgrim season, besides keeping a helicopter ready in Thiruvananthapuram throughout the season. Mr. Sudhakaran said the aviation company had agreed to lend its copters for emergency evacuation as and when required, reducing the State’s burden.
The Minister said the system, if implemented, would provide additional revenue to the Travancore Devaswom Board by way of rent for the helipad. The Minister said that an existing helipad on a hilltop earlier used by the Kerala Farming Corporation for carrying pesticides may be utilised for the proposed passenger copter service if it is cleared by all agencies concerned.Favourable response
Mr. Sudhakaran said the government favoured the proposal as it could provide an opportunity to many VIPs, businessmen and executives to undertake Sabarimala pilgrimage amidst their tight schedule. The Minister inspected construction works at the Nilackal base camp as part of improving the basic amenities there.
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