With three days left for the opening of the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple on Friday afternoon, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is busy making preparations for the smooth conduct of the two-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season that begins on Saturday, first day in the Malayalam month of Vrischikom.

The High Power Committee for implementing the Sabarimala Master Plan has prepared vehicle parking lots in an area of 24 acres at Nilackal, the base camp.

K. Ravikumar, TDB Chief Engineer, told The Hindu that 10,000 vehicles could be parked at Nilackal. Work on the parking lots had cost Rs.2.5 crore. A well-laid road network linking all the parking lots at the base camp was a major component of the master plan.

A 2.1-km-long and 10-m wide ring road had been constructed at the base camp and it would be ready for vehicular traffic in the next three days. The total cost of the ring road was estimated at Rs.3.2 crore.

Water storage

Mr. Ravikumar said that with the construction of a new water tank with a capacity of 15lakh litres, the total water storage capacity at the Nilackal base camp had gone up to 1 crore litres. The work had cost Rs.50 lakh. Three new bore- wells were also constructed at Nilackal.

e-toilets

Mr. Ravikumar said the TDB had installed 27 e-toilets, five of them exclusively for women, along the Marakkoottom-Sannidhanam Chandranandan Road at a total cost of Rs.40 lakh.

The pipeline carrying medicated drinking water from the Sannidhanam has been extended by 1 km along the Swami Ayyappan Road from Marakkoottom in view of the growing demand for improved drinking water facility on the Swami Ayyappan Road.

Work on the Rs.1-crore underpass at Marakkoottom, linking Swami Ayyappan Road with the Chandranandan Road, was nearing completion. The Rs.40-lakh work on the flyover extension from Malikappuram to the Annadanam hall was over. Work on the first phase of the government hospital complex at Pampa was apace to facilitate its inauguration this week, he said.

Aravana production

The TDB authorities at Sabarimala said the Aravana production at the modern plant was fast progressing. The plan was to produce a buffer stock of 25 lakh small cans of Aravana by Friday. The Aravana stock was 15 lakh tins as on Sunday evening.

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