Thiruvananthapuram: Ahead of the opening of the Sabarimala hill shrine Saturday evening, security has been beefed up and arrangements put in place in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta to avoid any untoward incident. It must be noted that devotees will be able to visit the temple from November 17.

Talking to news agency ANI, PB Nooh, Pathanamthitta District Collector said, “We have deployed over 800 medical staff and established 16 medical emergency centres.”

The District Collector added, “All basic arrangements are in place. Around 2,400 toilets and more than 250 water kiosks are ready. We have more than 1,000 sanitation workers deployed to ensure a clean atmosphere.”

Earlier in the day, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran made a controversial statement. He said that while the state government was all for peace, it was against women activists ‘gatecrashing’ the temple. “It is proper to maintain status quo at the temple. It is not a place for activism,” the minister said.

“Earlier also, the government has not taken women devotees to Sabarimala, neither will we in future. If anyone wants to go, they can approach courts in this regard” he added.

The remark came in the wake of women activist Trupti Desai’s proposed visit to temple on November 16. She had requested the Kerala Police to escort her to inner Sanctorum of the temple.

On Friday, the Supreme Court referred review pleas against its September 2018 judgement lifting ban on entry of women in the age group of 10-50 in Kerala’s Sabarimala shrine to a larger seven-judge bench. The top court had, however, refused to put a stay on the September 28 judgement.