Both the Government and the Travancore Devaswom Board have been fleecing the scores of haplesss pilgrims coming to Sabarimala from different parts of the country, alleged Mr V.Muraleedharan, BJP state president.
The BJP State president was addressing a Meet-the-Press programme at Pathanamthitta Press Club on Saturday.
Mr Muraldeedharan said the Government has been receiving a hefty revenue by way of taxes during the two-month long annual Sabarimala pilgrim season when as many as double the population of the State reportedly visit the forest shrine during the period. Similarly, the revenue collection of TDB from Sabarimala alone during the period amounted to more than 150 crore, he said.
``Ironically, both the Government and the TDB have been fleecing the pilgrims by introducing `special’ bus fare on `Sabarimala special’ services, additional taxes, special electricity tariff, etc, from them. The TDB even used to collect user fee from the devotees even at various comfort stations, conveniently sidelining the fact that it is the duty of the temple authority to ensure all necessary basic pilgrim facility at Sabarimala, he alleged.
He said it was high time to bring an end to this commercial attitude of the TDB as well as the State Government in the larger interests of extending foolproof pilgrim facility at Sabarimala.
Mr Muraleedharan alleged that the security arrangements at Sabarimala when the temle remains closed was nil and the Government should take immediate steps to ensure adequate security to the Ayyappa Temple. The State government could seek Central assistance, if needed, he said.