Every pilgrim would be supplied with a cloth bag for taking the waste generated by them at the holy hillock back to their residential courtyard for safe disposal, treating it as a service to Lord Ayyappa

The devotees, staff on duty, and every person visiting Sabarimala is bound to keep the hillock clean and protect the serene forest environs of the sacred grove, says P. Vijayan, City Police Commissioner of Thrissur, who has been posted as the Police Special Officer at Sabarimala.

Mr. Vijayan, who had successfully implemented the ‘Punyam Poonkavanom’ cleaning drive, making the devotees and the staff an integral part of the daily cleaning drive at the Sannidhanam, has re-launched the project this time too, with added vigour.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Vijayan said waste disposal was not at all a problem at Sabarimala if there was active people’s participation.

This time, the police will be launching another scheme, ‘Orumudikkettu,’ in which every pilgrim visiting Sabarimala would be supplied with a cloth bag for taking the waste generated by them at the holy hillock back to their residential courtyard for safe disposal, treating it as a service to Lord Ayyappa.

“Irumudikkettu for Lord Ayyappa and Orumudikkettu for home” is the slogan we raise as part of the new scheme, he added.

Mr. Vijayan said the idea was to make people aware of the responsibility to clear the entire waste generated by them at Sabarimala. Handing over the cloth bag, the police personnel deployed at the Lower Tirumuttom will politely ask the pilgrims to collect the waste materials generated by them in it on their return from the pilgrim centre after darshan.

VIP participation

The VIPs who visit the forest shrine also find time to take part in Punyam Poonkavanom drive that takes place at the Lower Tirumuttom at the Sannidhanam every day. Every person visiting Sabarimala, besides the staff, priests, and workers on duty at the pilgrim centre, are part of this cleaning mission.

The project was re-launched by chief priest (Tantri) Kandararu Rajeevaru, who himself had participated in the cleaning drive, along with K. Babu, Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court, senior police officers, staff on duty, and Ayyappa devotees on the first day of the pilgrim season.

Dignity of labour

Mr. Vijayan said the project, upholding the dignity of labour, was also an attempt to respect the Tamil workers attached to the Sabarimala Sanitation Society who have been doing round-the-clock service at Sabarimala.

“The project, of course, will create a new culture among the devotees that would eventually ensure better waste management at the pilgrim centre in a phased manner, besides protecting the forest environs with active participation of the devotees. The pilgrim-friendly police mission at Sabarimala too should be appreciated,” said a group of devotees who took part in the cleaning operation on Sunday.

Justice C.T. Ravikumar of Kerala High Court and Subhash Vasu, Travancore Devaswom Board member, were among those participated in the drive in the past two days.