Bharathiya Janata Yuva Morcha has asked the government to end what it called the fleecing of Sabarimala pilgrims in the name of collecting parking fee.
Yuva Morcha state president V V Rajesh told a news conference on Saturday here that pilgrims’ vehicles should be allowed to be parked free of cost.
He said that unlike in the past the auction for parking was held when there was a single bidder. He alleged corruption to the tune of Rs 11 crore in the fraudulent manner in which the auction was conducted.
He pointed out that it was a violation of rules to collect parking fee from places on which Devaswom Board had no ownership or control.
He said that large-scale cheating of the pilgrims was taking place in the name of parking fee. While the auction was for just Rs 60 lakh, the total collection in a season touches Rs 12 crore, he claimed. Around 20 lakh vehicles come to Sabarimala a year. He pointed out that while the parking was auctioned for Rs 1.9 crore last year, in 2012-13 it could fetch only Rs 60 lakh.
He alleged that Sishupalan, the contractor who won the auction this time, was a close relative of K P Dhanapalan MP. V S Jayakumar, Devaswom Board’s Finance officer, is the brother of Devaswom Minister V S Sivakumar. Rajesh said the auction contract was signed at 11 pm. He pointed out that parking fee was being collected from vehicles parked on land of PWD, Revenue, Forest departments. The Devaswom land was not demarcated at Pampa.
The parking slot has not been levelled so far. There is no facility for providing drinking water, toilet facilities and lighting. As there are no security personnel posted here, incidents of theft of tyres, horns, lights and diesel occurred under the cover of darkness.
The persons deployed for collecting parking fee had a shady background and they threatened the pilgrims from other states to fleece hefty fee, he alleged.
Rajesh said during the days of heavy pilgrim rush, pilgrims from other states would be made to pay Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 to get their vehicles parked. As police officials collect lakhs of rupees as bribe, police turn a blind eye to the complaints.
He alleged nexus between Devaswom minister, Devaswom officials, police and contractors.
The Yuva Morcha leader said the contractor was trying to get an order from the High court against Yuva Morcha-led agitation.
He asked the pilgrims not to pay parking fee in case of not ending the collection of parking fee.