The Travancore Devaswom Board is bound to implement the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups to Sabarimala, president A. Padmakumar has said.
Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Padmakumar said the TDB would implement the order in consultations with the government, Sabarimala chief priest (Tantri), and the Pandalam Palace.
However, the TDB would have to face many challenges, mainly owing to space constraints, for augmenting pilgrim amenities, considering the post-flood situation at Pampa, he said.
Mr. Padmakumar said the board expected a considerable increase in the number of pilgrims to Sabarimala during the next monthly puja period that begins on October 17.
With hardly 50 days for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season, augmentation of basic pilgrim facilities at Sabarimala, Pampa, and the main base camp at Nilackal had become imperative.
The TDB anticipated 30% to 40% increase in pilgrim flow during the pilgrim season.
Mr. Padmakumar said the board had to provide sufficient number of toilets, shelters, bathing places, etc., for the women devotees. Arrangements should be in place to ensure smooth darshan of the deity for all pilgrims, he said.
He said the TDB had got only 59 acres at Sabarimala. Of this, 36 acres house buildings, leaving only 23 acres of open space for the faithful to assemble and rest.
The TDB required 100 acres more at Sabarimala and 250 acres at Nilackal for improving basic pilgrim facilities.