The maiden meeting of the Sabarimala Masterplan Infrastructure Development Fund would be held in Kochi on July 31 afternoon, said M.Rajagopalan Nair, newly appointed Travancore Devaswom Board president.

Mr Nair, accompanied by the two new board members, V.Sasi and K.Sicily, was talking to reporters at Sabarimala on Friday morning.

Sabarimala Masterplan Infrastructure Development Fund is a registered body aimed at mobilising fund for implementing various development projects proposed in the masterplan in a time-bound fashion. Justice Arijit Pasayat of Supreme Court of India and Mr T.K.A.Nair, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, are patrons of this registered body. TKA Nair would be attending the meeting on July 31, he said.

Crowd management, holy darshan

TDB chief said the new board would give top priority for introducing a better crowd management mechanism as well as facility for smooth holy darshan for all devotees visiting the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala, especially during the rush days of the annual pilgrim season.

The suggestion mooted by Kerala High Court for widening the holy 18 steps as well as the doors of sanctum sanctorum would also be discussed in detail. The Court has made such a suggestion after noticing the sad plight of the pilgrims coming from different parts of the country for holy darshan at Sabarimala during the rush days of the festival season, he said.

Mr Nair said TDB was for implementing various pilgrim-oriented development schemes at Sabarimala on a priority basis and that too with the concurrence and co-operation of the Devaswom Bench of Kerala High Court.

He said TDB was for an open debate on various proposals to effectively address the problems of overcrowding and that concerning the holy darshan at the Ayyappa Temple. TDB would consult various stakeholders, including Hindu organisations, Tantris, Pandalam Palace and experts in the field of temple architecture on various proposals for improving the crowd management and to facilitate a smooth holy darshan for all, he added.

Mr Nair said the board was not for approaching any project proposal with a preconceived notion or closed mind, adding that it had an open mind towards various development proposals.

Mr Nair said the Chennai-based Pithavadiyan and Partners would be demonstrating the sketches of the proposed Sabarimala Masterplan at a meeting to be held at the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on July 26.

Agitation at Nilackal

The TDB chief said he had interacted with the agitating plantation workers at Nilackal on Thursday.

He said a majority of the striking workers belonged to weaker sections of the society and the Government, TDB and the State Farming Corporation would consider their genuine demands favourably. The board have already taken a humanitarian approach towards the issue, he added.

P.V.Nalinakshan Nair, Devaswom Commissioner, V.S.Jayakumar, Executive Officer and K.Ravikumar, Chief Engineer, were also present.