The Legislative Committee on Environment chaired by Mr. Rajaji Mathew Thomas has called upon the Travancore Devaswom Board to set up a separate department for environment conservation.

Mr. Mathew, accompanied by the committee members, Mons Joseph, M. Hamsa, K.V. Abdul Khader and K.P. Mohanan, was talking to reporters, after holding a sitting at the Devaswom Administrative Complex at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam on Thursday.

The committee maintained that presently, an Assistant Engineer appointed by the TDB is the lone person to look after various environmental aspects involved in the affairs of the board at Sabarimala and surrounding areas. The existing set up was grossly inadequate to meet the environment conservation needs at Sabarimala situated in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, opined the committee.

Mr. Thomas said the TDB should explore the possibility of making available pure and safe drinking water free for all, at Sabarimala. This could eventually reduce the sale of drinking water in pet bottles at the pilgrim centre. A large number of pet bottles thrown into the forests by pilgrims has been a major cause for the plastic menace in the sacred grove during the annual pilgrim season.

Sewage treatment

The committee has stressed the immediate need for setting up a modern sewage treatment plant at the Sannidhanam in a time bound manner.

It further maintained that the TDB should abandon user fee for toilets at Sabarimala which could make people, especially workers on daily wages, at the pilgrim centre as well as the base camps of Pampa and Nilackal to make use of the toilet facility there, curbing the menace of open defecation.

Mr. Thomas said the board should also take extra care to ensure better facility for pilgrims coming through the traditional route to Sabarimal via Karimala.

The committee members, accompanied by the Additional Chief Secretary, K. Jayakumar who is also the TDB Chief Commissioner, visited the temple pond, Bhasmakkulam and Paandithavalom, later.

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