Minister Wants Private Vehicles Entry At Pamba, Cop Says Give In Writing.

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The senior police officer said if the minister can give in writing that private vehicles would be allowed to Pamba, he was prepared to give the green light NILAKKAL: Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, who was on his way to the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, found himself engaged in a bitter war of words with the police over restrictions on private vehicles heading to Pamba, the base camp from where the climb towards the shrine of Lord Ayyappa starts. Though senior police officer Yatish Chandra said the minister could travel in his official vehicle, Mr Radhakrishnan said he preferred to proceed to Pamba from Nilakkal in a state-run KSRTC bus as a mark of protest against the restrictions imposed by state authorities on pilgrims. The Minister of State for Shipping and Finance arrived at the base camp in Nilakkal, 20 km from Sabarimala, a day after the visit of opposition Congress-led UDF legislators and BJP parliamentarians to take stock of facilities for devotees. After reviewing them, the minister asked Mr Chandra why only KSRTC vehicles were being allowed till Pamba and asked them to allow private vehicles also. "You (police) are unnecessarily harassing devotees. Why only KSRTC vehicles are being allowed till Pamba? This is not good for Sabarimala pilgrims. Private vehicles should also be allowed," the minister said. Mr Chandra, however, said that parking space at Pamba had been washed away in the August floods. He said the KSRTC buses would not park at Pamba and would be returning with pilgrims, but allowing private vehicles would create traffic jam. The senior police officer said if the minister can give in writing that private vehicles would be allowed to Pamba, he was prepared to give the green light, despite considering Pamba is an ecologically sensitive area. Accompanied by Kerala BJP leaders and supporters, the minister later spoke with devotees. "The government should correct itself, otherwise the people will correct them," he told reporters in Pamba.

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