The Residents’ Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) plans to team up with the town panchayats of Vadavalli and Somayampalayam for a mass cleaning programme at the foothills of Marudhamalai before the World Classical Tamil Conference.

Association vice-president R.R. Balasundaram said on Sunday that since Marudhamalai was a pilgrimage centre, people attending the conference might visit this place also. Therefore, the foothills should be rid of garbage.

A team from RAAC visited the foothills recently to make an assessment of the work to be carried out. The association pointed out the problems that pilgrims confronted.

There were no basic amenities such as bus shelters, toilets and drinking water facilities for the tourists at the foothills. These should be provided soon, Mr. Balasundaram said. There were no organised waste collection and disposal systems.

Tender coconut waste lay in a huge heap and plastic bags were dumped all over the place, he said.

Waste bins were not provided at any place near the bus stand or the shops. The entire foothills area was full of garbage, plastic waste and was being used even as a public toilet.

RAAC said the bus and taxi stands needed proper flooring. It should be levelled so that water did not stagnate. Adequate number of bus shelters should be built and toilets must be constructed near the bus stand.

Drinking water taps for the tourists, garbage bins for proper storage of waste and daily disposal, removal of encroachments along the main road were some of the measures needed for a face-lift to Marudhamalai – where the hill shrine of Lord Muruga was located.

Mr. Balasundaram said some of the revenue made by the Somayampalayam Town Panchayat and the temple board should be spent on making improvements to the foothills. Inadequate basic facilities and the lack of hygiene would inflict hardship on the pilgrims and also the visitors during the conference.

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