The Revenue (Devaswoms) Department has directed the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to avoid the use of donkeys at Sabarimala for transporting materials.

The inhuman treatment meted out to the beasts of burden at Sabarimala by contractors had been brought to the fore again with Shashi Tharoor, MP, taking up the issue with Devaswom Minister V.S. Sivakumar.

Dr. Tharoor had pointed out the atrocious working conditions of hundreds of donkeys in Sabarimala, where they were used for transporting various materials along the hilly terrain.

In his letter addressed to Mr. Sivakumar, Dr. Tharoor said that though the matter had been brought to the attention of the High Court and the court had passed several orders directing the manner in which the use of donkeys in Sabarimala should be regulated, these were consistently being ignored by the authorities concerned. The problem was worsening year after year.

He suggested that the entire system of using animals for transporting materials be dispensed with and that a ropeway or elevators such as those used in construction sites be used for transporting purposes.

Dr. Tharoor also pointed out that dispensing with the use of donkeys would not just put an end to the sad plight of the animals, it would also improve the hygiene around Sabarimala temple.

Responding to Dr. Tharoor’s letter, the Revenue (Devaswoms) Department said that the proposal for the ropeway was under active consideration of the TDB and that this was intended to avoid the use of animals to carry materials. The TDB had been asked to discontinue the use of donkeys at Sabarimala even before the ropeway became functional.

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