An acute shortage of packaged drinking water at the Sannidhanam in the past two days has left pilgrims high and dry.
The company that won the contract for packaged drinking-water sales has allegedly failed to ensure supply. It abruptly closed down its outlet on Tuesday, besides stopping supply to various hotels and shops in the holy hillock.
The Travancore Devasowm Board had allotted the exclusive right to sell bottled drinking water to the Kolencherry-based Five Star Aqua Minerals Ltd. after obtaining the mandatory clearance from the Kerala High Court in October 2010 to check sale of spurious water and fleecing of pilgrims.
The company had agreed to sell its Green Valley brand of drinking water at a subsidised rate of Rs.12 for a one-litre bottle and Rs.22 for a two-litre bottle through its direct outlets at Pampa, whereas the same product will cost Rs.15 and Rs.25, respectively, at other commercial establishments and shops there.
At the Sannidhanam, the prices have been fixed at Rs.13 and Rs.23 at direct outlets and Rs.17 and Rs.30 at other establishments.
The company had remitted Rs 60,00,010 towards offer price to the board for the exclusive right.
Company sources told The Hindu that the supply had stopped as permission was denied for transporting the consignments from Pampa owing to a heavy pilgrim influx in the last lap of the Makaravilakku festival.
The lack of packaged drinking water has added to the woes of pilgrims on the eve of Makaravilakku when the holy hillock witnessed a mammoth crowd.