Stone benches to be installed at different points for the pilgrims to take rest

: Widening of the Neelimala pathway at Sabarimala is progressing on course with a view to completing it before the Onam festival.

Talking to The Hindu, Narayanan Nambisan, executive engineer attached to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), said work on developing the Neelimala-Appachimedu stretch was launched soon after the Makaravilakku festival in January. The Sabarimala master plan approved by the Kerala High Court has suggested widening of the Neelimala path to 12 metres in order to avoid crowding during the pilgrim season.

He said the work taken up on the 1200–metre stretch of the Neelimala-Appachimedu stretch was estimated to cost Rs.35 lakh.

More steps would be constructed to reduce the gradient of the steep stretches on the trekking path, Mr. Nambisan added.

He said that forest boundary would be demarcated on both sides of the Neelimala path and stone benches would be installed at different points for the pilgrims to take rest.

The TDB has decided to construct a service road linking Triveni bridge and the road leading to Ganapati Temple, near Pampa Government Hospital.

The Board has also decided to make the Nadappanthal on Pampa Manalpuram Road a permanent structure to provide a resting place for pilgrims.

Construction of permanent toll collection counters at Chalakkayam, a weigh bridge near the petrol pump at Pampa and an overhead tank with a capacity to store one lakh litres of water at Nilackal are some of the other projects planned by the TDB at Sabarimala.

All these projects will be executed after getting the mandatory clearance from the High Court, a TDB official said.