With the closure of the Lord Ayyappa Temple after the 41-day Mandalam festival on Saturday evening, the Sabarimala Sanitation Society (SSS) has launched an intensive cleaning drive at Sabarimala Sannidhanam, Pampa, Nilackal and on the trekking paths on Sunday morning.

District Collector, S. Lalithambika, who is also the ex-officio chairperson of SSS, told The Hindu that the society has started clearing the filth accumulated in different parts of the pilgrim centre from the early morning itself. The idea is to clear the waste materials from Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilackal in the next two days itself so that the pilgrim centre will be clean by the time the Ayyappa Temple opens on Wednesday afternoon, she adds.

With the culmination of the Mandalam festival, Sannidhanam and Pampa have been left heavily littered with plastic and other wastes and the SSS mission is to dispose the waste in a time bound manner, says Ms. Lalithambika.

The cleaning process was slightly affected at the Sannidhanam during the last two days of the Mandalam festival owing to heavy rush.

The Collector said tractors have been deployed to shift the solid waste collected to the dumping yards near the incinerators at Pampa and the Sannidhanam.

Mr. N. Mahesan, former Revenue Divisional Officer, is co-ordinating the cleaning operation at Sabarimala. As many as 600 sanitation workers from Tamil Nadu have been deployed at Sannidhanam, Pampa and Nilackal for the cleaning drive.

Mr. Mahesan said a total of 225 workers have been deployed at Sannidhanam, Paandithavalm and along the trekking path up to Appachimedu.

Clothes in Pampa

The SSS workers have also launched a cleaning drive in river Pampa on the foothills to clear the clothes abandoned by the pilgrims in the river on their return trail from Sabarimala after the pilgrimage.

Ms. Lalithambika said the entire Sabarimala has been divided into different sectors and sanitation workers were deployed under a Revenue official in each sector so as to ensure effective sanitation in the area.

The Tamil workers were doing a yeomen service at Sabarimala, she added.

It is noteworthy to mention that SSS was founded by former District Collector, K.B. Valsalakumari, in an effort to bring an end to the sanitation problem at the pilgrim centre in 1995, braving opposition from certain ‘powerful’ contractor lobbies. Her successor, Mr. Inderjit Singh had introduced an insurance cover for all Tamil workers who constitute the SSS backbone, later.

According to Ms. Lalithambika, the intensive cleaning drive is expected to be over by Tuesday.

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