The Madras High Court Bench on Thursday directed the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University to depute a team of experts to study the feasibility of extracting water from the 22 ‘theertham’ sites at the Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram and introduce a sprinkling system to avoid wastage of water and to maintain hygiene.

A Division Bench comprising Justices R. Sudhakar and V.M. Velumani issued the directive based on a public interest litigation filed by M. Vennila, an advocate, who sought the intervention of the court to maintain the sanctity of the temple which was polluted. On Thursday, based on the recommendations of a three-member advocate commission, the judges directed the team to be formed by the Vice-Chancellor of Anna University to submit its feasibility report on using non-electrical means to extract water from the ‘theertham’ sites and introduce sprinkling system.

The judges also instructed the Director of the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, to depute “a qualified team, which may include students” to study proper utilisation of water from all the ‘theertham’ sites and submit a report in the court.

The municipality authorities made their submissions before the judges that they had taken steps to clean garbage in the area surrounding the temple and that a tender had been issued to clear the garbage. The judges recorded the submissions.

Earlier, the advocate commissioners had told the court that the ‘agni theertham’ where hundreds of devotees took holy dip every day was polluted by discharge of sewage from public toilets and commercial complexes into the sea near the ‘agni theertham’ and that the ‘theertham’ was ‘not conducive and hygienic’ for the devotees to drench their legs and take a dip.

Following an inspection of the 22 ‘theertham’ sites in the temple, the advocate commissioners submitted that water remained stagnant in most of the ‘theertham’ sites, leading to stench. The case was adjourned to February 10 for further hearing.