The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) has expressed concern over the delay in making proper arrangements for the smooth conduct of the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage that begins in mid-November.

Talking to The Hindu here on Monday, ABASS vice-president D. Vijayakumar alleged that neither the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) nor the State government had taken any effective steps to improve basic pilgrim amenities at the hill temple. Mr. Vijayakumar said there was delay in executing the development projects envisaged in the Sabarimala masterplan.

Though Devaswom Chief Commissioner K. Jayakumar had promised to complete the construction of at least a few segments of the proposed queue complex before the next pilgrim season, the TDB was yet to start the tender proceedings, he said. Mr. Vijayakumar said the proposed development work on the Pampa-Marakkoottom Swami Ayyappan Road after obtaining clearance from the Forest Department too remained a non-starter. The elderly and physically challenged pilgrims usually take this route during their annual pilgrimage.

Though the Chief Commissioner had also promised modernisation of the ‘aravana' plant at Sabarimala seven months ago, no initiative has been taken in this regard, he said.

The ABASS vice-president said the Sabarimala Infrastructure Development Trust chaired by the Additional Chief Secretary too has not taken any initiative to mobilise funds to implement various projects as part of the multi-crore masterplan.

He said there were complaints against the poor condition of latrines at Pampa during the previous pilgrim season. But the TDB was yet to take any step to address this problem.

Mr. Vijayakumar said a large number of doctors from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Puducherry have expressed their willingness to do voluntary service at Sabarimala and the State government should consider the proposal in the larger interests of extending better healthcare to the multitude of pilgrims who visit the temple every year.

He said the government should take immediate steps to implement various projects envisaged in the Centrally-sponsored Pampa Action Plan. Steps should also be taken to improve the basic facilities at various base camps like Erumely, Nilackal, Pandalam and Chengannur. .

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