Chottanikkara Panchayat on Wednesday took the initiative to call an all-party meet to ensure that the issue of improper drains and waste management does not spill over to the Sabarimala pilgrim season beginning mid-November.

People representing the Janakeeya Samithy, the PWD, Devaswom Board, the Hindu Aikya Vedi, the Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association, KSRTC, Private Bus Operators, residents’ association and its apex council and people from all walks of life took part in the meeting.

It was decided that sign boards in all major languages will be put up at various vantage points indicating that cleanliness be maintained and that waste not be thrown on the roads. It was also decided that the Devaswom Board will issue leaflets to visitors that would carry information in all major languages indicating toilet facilities and proper disposal of waste.

Panchayat president Johnson Thomas said it was decided by the council to employ security personnel near the temple all through the pilgrim season and also have contract cleaning staff. The High Court had directed on Monday that proper drains for waste water be constructed up to 400 metres in front of the shops and hotels on the side of the road leading to the Chottanikkara Devi Temple before the pilgrim season begins.

The onus is on the Public Works Department in Mulanthuruthy to complete the work before the Sabarimala season begins mid-November. The court has also asked the District Administration to find a suitable place to set up a sewage treatment plant so that the paddy fields into which drainage empties are not polluted further.

The District Collector, P.I. Sheikh Pareeth, told The Hindu that the space will be found with the help of shop owners.

The drains in front of the temple were blocked earlier by the PWD on the instruction of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Fort Kochi after the Janakeeya Samithy supported by the Chottanikkara Grama Panchayat sent a complaint alleging septage being release by hotels into the drains. It led to the closure of a few lodges and restaurants in the area early in the year, following which the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association approached the High Court.

The earlier attempt by the PWD to carry out the Court’s order in May to build the drain had resulted in protests by the Janakeeya Samithy.

The High Court had then appointed an Advocate Commissioner to report on the situation. The order on Monday has asked for a proper drainage system with a rider to the members of KHRA that no septage be dumped into it.

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