The State Government has made every possible effort to ensure a smooth and trouble-free pilgrimage to Sabarimala for the scores of Ayyappa devotees coming from different parts of the country during the two-month long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival, said Devaswom Minister, V.S. Sivakumar.

The Minister, accompanied by M. Rajagopalan Nair, Travancore Devaswom Board president, K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary; P. Chandrashekharan and TDB members, was addressing a press conference at the Devaswom Guest House at Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Sunday.

He said the Government would take serious and effective initiative to implement various pilgrim amenity projects as envisaged in the Sabarimala Master Plan in a time-bound manner itself.

CM to hold meeting on January 31

The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, will convene a meeting of various departmental heads as well as Government and non-goverrnmental agencies on January 31 to discuss Sabarimala development and implementation of various development projects at Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilackal in the next one year period, he said.

The Minister said the capacity augmentation of the Kunnar-based drinking water supply scheme to Sabarimala, construction of a modern proposed Appam-Aravana plant, doubling of the Valiya Nadappanthal, sanitation and waste disposal at the pilgrim centre would be given top priority.

Mr Sivakumar said the work on the Appam-Aravana plant near Malikappuram would begin this year itself.

Mr Jayakumar said construction major Larsen & Toubor Limited would be constructed the Rs 27-crore double-storey Valiya Nadappanthal and G.M. Rao of GMR Group of Companies has promised to sponsor the project.

He said the Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, has already carried out an environment impact assessment at Kunnar and the additional pipe-laying work of the project would be launched this year itself.

Setting up of a modern sewage treatment plant and augmentation of the existing one at Cheriyanavattom near Pampa were the other two projects to be implemented this year itself and the Chief Minister has launched the project at Pampa prior to the beginning of the pilgrim season.

He said the Government has allotted Rs 5 crore for the Zero Waste Sabarimala scheme lakh and the pre-pilgriiamge cleaning drive carried out by volunteers of Mata Amritanandamayyi Madhom and other NGOs was a shot in the arm to the Government in its declared policy to make Sabarimala clean and and waste-free.

Nilackal base camp

Mr Sivakumar said the Governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have agreed to construct Andhra Bhavan and Karnataka Bhavan respectively at the five acres of land allotted to them by the Kerala Government at the Nilackal base camp.

He said discussion with the Tamil Nadu Government under way on Kerala’s proposal to allot five acres of land to all South Indian States for setting up similar pilgrim information as well amenity cetre for pilgrims coming from Tamil Nadu.

Harivarasanam Award

Renowned singer, K.J. Jesudas, has been selected for tipped for this year’s Harivarasanam Award instituted by the State Government for his contributions in the field of Malayalam music.

The award comprising cheque worth Rs 50,000 and a citation would be presented to Mr Jesudas at a ceremonial function to beheld at Sabaraimala during the forthcoming Vishu festival, he said.

Safe Zone project

The Minister said the Safe Zone project launched by the Motor Vehicle Department on the main trunk roads leading to Sabarimala was proved to be a success as it could reduce road accidents considerably this year.

As many as 3700 poice personnel have been deployed at Sabarimala and Pampa during the Makaravilakku festival, he said.

Ms K. Cicily, K.V. Padmanabhan, TDB members; N. Vasu, Devaswom Commissioner; K. Ravikumar, TDB Chief Engineer; M. Sathishkumar, Executive Officer and C.G. Satchidanandan, former devaswom commissioner, were also present.