With hardly five days to go for the culmination of the 41-day Mandalam pilgrimage to Sabarimala, the situation has not changed much for the harried pilgrims. They still have to put up with poor amenities on the trekking path and at the Sannidhanam. Disregard for setting up pilgrim facilities is a violation of repeated Kerala High Court directives to provide them.

K. Babu, Special Commissioner appointed by the court, told The Hindu on Monday that it was sad that pilgrims were put to much hardship on the four-kilometre Swami Ayyappan Road without drinking water, lighting, toilets and urinals.

Echoing the concerns of scores of pilgrims, a pilgrim, J. Jinudevan, a student at Mar Baselios Christian College of Engineering and Technology, Peerumade, accused the authorities of criminal negligence in providing basic facilities.

Court directive

Mr. Babu said a High Court Bench, comprising Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and A.V. Justice Ramakrishna Pillai, had said in an order on February 6 that “the Travancore Devaswom Board, the high-power committee for implementation of the Sabarimala master plan, and the State government shall do the needful to provide basic facilities like urinals, oxygen parlours, medical centres, and resting places en route from Pampa to Marakkoottom on Swami Ayyappan Road and at such places as may be found feasible on the trekking path from Erumely to Pampa, over and above the facilities now available between Pampa and Sannidhanam through the Neelimala track.”

Mr. Babu said he had written to the Chief Secretary on June 10 seeking provision of basic pilgrim facilities on Swami Ayyappan Road as directed by the court.

Though an action-taken report was sought from the Chief Secretary, there was no response.

In a report submitted on November 19, the Special Commissioner had apprised the court of the sad state of affairs on the road. He had suggested setting up a sufficient number of urinals and five oxygen parlours on the road, besides opening a medical centre at Charalmedu. He would report the violations to the court soon.

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