Lack of proper planning and an inefficient method of collecting discarded clothes at Amma Mandapam bathing ghat in Srirangam, have evoked strong reactions from devotees.
The bathing ghat, situated on the northern banks of Cauvery river, is considered a holy spot for performing of obsequies to ancestors and forefathers. It attracts a large number of devotees from different parts of Tamil Nadu and northern States. The bathing ghat is busy on Amavasya (new moon) days.
The upkeep of the premises, which is owned by the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple under Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, and the collection of discarded clothes, have been major issues for long. While the temple administration has the responsibility of collecting clothes and other abandoned items, the Tiruchi Corporation takes care of maintaining the toilets and urinals.
According to a rough estimate, about 100 bags of clothes are discarded in the bathing ghat every day. While the water flow washes away some, most of the garments and abandoned items get stuck in the bathing ghat itself. Though the temple administration has a system to collect the clothes, it is alleged that there are gaps in implementation. Lack of proper planning and inefficient monitoring mechanism have led to the accumulation of clothes in the ghat, devotees say. The floating clothes invariably drift towards the devotees who take a holy dip in the Cauvery after performing their pujas. Many among the devotees have become livid with the officials concerned for the sorry state of affairs.
According to sources, the temple generates a revenue of about ₹50 lakh per year by renting out shops and auctions from Amma Mandapam alone. But it is alleged that it has not employed sufficient staff to maintain the premises. “The inefficient cleaning mechanism has forced us to intervene. We have employed two persons for cleaning the premises and spend ₹25,000 a month towards their salary,” says V. Jayakumar, president of Purohithargal Sangam at Amma Mandapam.
When contacted, Corporation Commissioner R. Vaithinathan said 50 persons had been employed for cleaning up areas in and around Amma Mandapam. The cleaning and maintenance of urinals and toilets had been monitored on a daily basis. However, collection of discarded clothes was not under the purview of the civic body as the ghat is not owned by it.
A priest said that the temple administration could not shy away from the responsibility of keeping the premises clean and neat. It should take steps to employ at least 10 persons to ensure the cleanliness of Amma Mandapam. The Collector should visit the place to take stock of the ground situation and discuss the issues with stakeholders to find a solution.