Pilgrims coming to Sabarimala are likely to heave a sigh of relief this time, following the decision of the Travancroe Devaswom Board to engage the Delhi-based pan-India social service organisation, Sulabh International Limited, for the upkeep and operation of restroom complexes at the main base camps of Pampa and Nilackal during the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival that begins on November 16.
According to TDB sources, Sulabh is an internationally reputed group in the field of environmental sanitation, health and hygiene, waste management, and so forth.
Sulabh has reached an agreement with the TDB for operating the restrooms at Pampa and Nilackal by charging a ‘user fee’ of two rupees per person, sharing the profit at 60:40 ratio.
TDB sources said the board would extend the arrangement to Sannidhanam too, depending on the success of the scheme, from next year.
TDB used to auction off the right to run the restrooms in Sabarimala at hefty auction money in the previous years. There were large scale complaints and allegations against the contractors for fleecing devotees by charging double and even four times the rate fixed by the TDB. This was in blatant violation of their contractual obligation, especially during the rush days of the pilgrim season.
The board has decided to do away with the auctioning system and to entrust a reputed agency for the upkeep, maintenance and operation of the restroom complexes at the pilgrim centre in an attempt to provide better basic amenities to the scores of Ayyappa devotees coming from different parts of the country, sources said.
The TDB will also install makeshift stainless steel urinals along the Marakkootom-Sannidhanam Chandrananadan Road during the pilgrim season in an effort to keep the trekking path clean and hygienic, they added.
The installation work of two incinerators is fast progressing at Paandithavalom.