The Travancore Devaswom Board Employees' Front (TDBEF) has called upon the government to set apart not less than Rs.100 crore in the forthcoming budget for implementing the proposed Sabarimala master plan.
Addressing a press conference at Sabarimala on Sunday, TDBEF general secretary S. Baiju said the governments of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh had already made budget allocations for Sabarimala development and the Kerala government too should follow suit.
Mr. Baiju said the State government had had a hefty revenue by way of various taxes during the two-month long Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season. There were as many pilgrims as the State's population from different parts of the country, he said.
He said the State government was bound to ensure foolproof pilgrim facility at Sabarimala, instead of taking the pilgrim centre as a “milch cow”.
Mr Baiju has called upon the TDB to stop recruitment of employees through employment exchanges.
Though the Public Service Commission had been entrusted with the recruitment of the Devaswom staff, it had not even formulated the guidelines for the same, he alleged.
Mr. Baiju said the government should constitute an independent recruitment agency in line with the Banking Service Recruitment Board, for enlisting employees to various Devaswom boards in the State. He said the organisation was against the decision to carry out recruitment of the Devaswom staff through PSC.
He also said that various proposals, including the one for widening the holy 18-steps, should be considered only after convening a meeting of competent religious scholars and other experts in the field.
Similarly, service of experts in crowd management should be sought during the Sabarimala pilgrim season, he added.
Addressing another press conference at the Sannidhanam on Sunday, Travancore Devaswom Board Staff Association general secretary K.V. Balachandran Nair has strongly condemned the practice of depositing the TDB funds in private banks.
Mr. Nair said the TDB had been depositing a major chunk of its funds in a private bank for the past several years.
He said the board should do away with this practice and deposit the funds in a nationalised bank.
The association also called upon the government and the board to take urgent steps to fill in all vacancies in the TDB in a time-bound manner.