Kerala

Sabarimala authorities seek more forestland

An aerial view of Lord Ayyappa temple complext at Sabarimala. — Photo: Leju Kamal  

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has decided to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek the delinking of 500 hectares of forestland in and around Sabarimala from the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) to provide basic pilgrim facilities as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament a decade ago.

Talking to The Hindu, TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan and member Ajay Tharayil said they would meet the Prime Minister after the Makaravilakku festival seeking his help in developing Sabarimala into an international pilgrimage centre by providing sustainable amenities.

The TDB officials said Sabarimala, situated 467 metres above mean sea level, had been plagued by “grossly inadequate” basic facilities due to non-availability of space.

Mr. Tharayil said the concept of Sabarimala pilgrimage itself stood for preserving the pristine glory of the sacred grove ( poonkavanam). The TDB was for providing basic pilgrim facilities there in an eco-friendly manner. However, frequent intervention and intimidation by the Forest Department have been posing hurdles in the temple administration’s efforts to ensure proper pilgrim facilities at Sabarimala, he said.

He said the board had only 25 hectares of land, allotted by the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore, in its possession at Sabarimala. He added that a TDB team would invite Mr. Modi to visit Sabarimala at the earliest.

PAC recommendation

Mr. Tharayil said the PAC visited Sabarimala in 2004 and 2005 to collect first-hand information regarding the problems faced by the pilgrim centre.

Chapter II of one of the reports submitted by the PAC had discussed the problems facing the pilgrims on account of the inclusion of Sabarimala in the PTR.

The report had categorically stated that delinking Sabarimala from the PTR was the only remedial measure to address the plight of the pilgrims.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 10:17:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/Sabarimala-authorities-seek-more-forestland/article13977166.ece

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