The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) has strongly condemned the move to regulate pilgrim flow to Sabarimala as part of the National Tiger Conservation Agency’s proposal to restrict entry of tourists to the Tiger Reserves across the country.

Talking to The Hindu, N. Velayudhan Nair, ABASS general secretary, has said that any restriction on the visit of pilgrims to Sabarimala could be taken as a undemocratic encroachment upon the Constitutional right of the scores of Ayyappa devotees who undertake their pilgrimage to the holy hillock every year.

The Sabrimala pilgrimage is purely eco-friendly in nature and the essential spirit of which is nature worship. The State Government too had accepted that not less than four crore Ayyappa devotees undertake their annual pilgrimage to the hill shrine during the two-month long Mandlam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season alone.

Ayyappa devotees never harm the forest environs or the wild animals. Instead, they plant coconut saplings in the forests as a custom and tradition of this unique pilgrimage every year, sending the message of forest conservation, Mr Nair said.

The ABASS leader said the Lord Ayyappa Temple has got a history of not less than 2000 years and the Periyar Tiger Reserve came into existence hardly two decade ago. It may also be noted that Sabarimala is situated only in the buffer zone of the PTR and not in its core area, he adds.

Mr Nair said the Supreme Court of India had approved the master plan for Sabarimala development prepared by the Delhi-based Ecosmart India Limited.

Moreover, the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament chaired by Mr Buta Singh had strongly opposed the inclusion of Sabarimala in PTR. The PAC report tabled in the Parliament had recommended exclusion of Sabarimala from PTR in the larger interest of providing sufficient eco-friendly basic facilities to the multitude of pilgrims visiting the holy hillock every year, Mr Nair said.

The ABASS has called upon the Government, and the NTCA not to impose any restriction on the pilgrims visiting Sabarimala.

He said the Sanghom too has impleaded in the Special Leave Petition pending before the Apex Court in this regard.

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