Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will launch an intensive pre-pilgrimage cleaning programme at Sabarimala here at an official function to be held at Pampa on November 7.

Talking to The Hindu, K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary and chairman of the High Power Committee (HPC) for implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan, said the ‘zero waste' project aimed at keeping the pilgrimage centre clean and waste-free during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival when as many as double the population of the State visited the Ayyappa temple in a short span of two months.

According to Mr. Jayakumar, as many as 3,000 volunteers of various religious and non-governmental organisations would take part in the cleaning drive.

The Mata Amruthanandamayi Madhom has agreed to take a lead role in the initiative by deploying as many as 2,000 sanitation volunteers. This is besides the volunteers of the Satya Sai Seva Trust, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom, Eco Development Committees attached to the Forest Department and National Service Scheme units attached to certain colleges, he said.

Mr. Jayakumar said Sabarimala and Pampa would be divided into 26 segments to facilitate a smooth and systematic conduct of the cleaning programme.

The Chief Minister will convene a meeting of various departmental heads and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials at 11 a.m. at Pampa to review the arrangements in place for the annual pilgrimage season.

Minister for Devaswom and Transport V.S. Sivakumar will preside over the meeting. Minister for Forests K.B. Ganeshkumar, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph, Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed, Minister for Public Works V.K. Ebrahim Kunju, and Health Minister Adoor Prakash, will be attending the review meeting.

New exit route

Mr. Chandy will also open the newly constructed one-km diversion road-cum-Bailey Bridge linking Sabarimala Sannidhanam with Chandranandan Road on the same day. Mr. Jayakumar said the new road, proposed in the Sabarimala Master Plan, will be used as the exit route for pilgrims returning from Sabarimala after the holy darshan.

The Bailey Bridge has been erected by the Madras Engineer Group of the Indian Army at an estimated cost of Rs.75 lakh and the Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation has undertaken the exit road work at an estimated cost of Rs.122 lakh.

Preparations apace

Mr. Jayakumar said the work on a new service road linking Triveni with Njunangar banks at Pampa and the development work on Swami Ayyappan Road was fast progressing and were expected to be completed in two weeks.

He said Steel Industries Limited Kerala (SILK) had been asked to complete the work on the queue complex at Sabaripeetom and Saramkuthi on a war-footing so as to commission it well before the beginning of the pilgrimage season.

Mr. Jayakumar said the TDB would open an additional ‘prasadom' distribution complex at a building near the new Bailey Bridge near Malikappuram so that pilgrims returning from Sabarimala could purchase Aravana and Appam without waiting in the long queue before the prasadom counters at the Lower Tirumuttom.

Meanwhile, the resurfacing of the Chalakkayam-Pampa Road was progressing well, he said.

Mr. Jayakumar said the high power committee was very much disappointed to see that the contractors who were entrusted to carry out the development of the Nilackal base camp had miserably failed to comply with their contractual obligations, leaving the hapless pilgrims at the receiving end.

However, the TDB works department had been asked to make necessary arrangements for vehicle parking and to repair the road network at Nilackal, he said.

Keywords: Oommen Chandy