3.25 crore pilgrims visited the temple this time
Sabarimala: Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran said here on Monday that revenue collection at Sabarimala during this Mandalam-Makaravilakku period was higher than that in last year’s pilgrimage season.
At a press conference, the Minister said the total revenue collection as on Sunday evening was Rs. 72.52 crore against previous year’s Rs. 72.35 crore.
He said the revenue by way of Aravana sale during this Makaravilakku period was put at Rs. 8 crore, up from Rs. 7.18 crore of that in previous year. Sunday’s sale was a record 1,85,000 cans of 250-ml each.
He said 3.25-crore pilgrims visited Sabarimala tthis time and another 25 lakh were expected in the remaining five days before the temple was closed.
The Minister said Sabarimala had been getting worldwide popularity as a major pilgrim centre, and the government would soon take steps to ensure its inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records. Groundwork had been done for that.
Mr. Sudhakaran said the allegation that the government was diverting funds of the Travancore Devaswom Board was absurd and baseless. It gave a grant of Rs. 80 lakh to the Board and Rs. 50 lakh to the Sabarimala Sanitation Society this year. As many as 14,000 government employees had been closely associated with Sabarimala affairs during the two-month pilgrimage season.
He lauded the efforts made by the Special Officer appointed by the government, K. Jayakumar, for the smooth conduct of the festival by ensuring well-coordinated functioning of various departments and the Devaswom Board.
Mr. Jayakumar would be special officer for the proposed Malabar Devaswom Board.
He said the government departments, especially the police department, had played a key role in the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage. He said the government would consider sanctioning special allowances to the police personnel deputed for Sabarimala duty.
He said the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Panneerselvam had praised the government for the arrangements being made to improve pilgrim facilities. The Minister called upon stakeholders at Sabarimala to make the Mata Amrithanandamayi Math their model in doing service to the pilgrims.
Mr. Sudhakaran said the government would explore the possibility of implementing all the recommendations of the Paripoornan commission, in the larger interests of the pilgrim centre and devotees.
He said the Guruvayur Devaswom had supplied food to no fewer than 3.5-lakh pilgrims at Pandalam, Nilackal and Erumeli during the Makaravilakku period.