Kerala

Long-stalled spiritual circuit in Sabarimala to resume amidst uncertainties over funding

The lingering uncertainties over fund allocation notwithstanding, the long stalled project of Sabarimala Spiritual Circuit is set to resume after a gap of three years.

According to officials, the project has gathered momentum with the High-Power Committee for Sabarimala, which supervises its implementation, set to award the remaining works within two weeks. The works to be taken up in this phase include installation of granite treads along the trekking roots and demolition of dilapidated buildings at Sannidhanam to ensure free flow of devotees, among others.

The ₹ 99.98 Central project, initiated under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Union Tourism Ministry, took off to a start in 2016-19 with state receiving ₹ 19.99 crore as the first tranche .Though the authorities had completed a host of works including an information centre at Erumeli and ghats on the banks of Pampa, the project came to a grinding halt during the mega floods of 2018.

“Of the first tranche, a substantial amount has already been spent on different projects while the remaining amount will be utilized at this stage. As to the allocation of remaining amount, a letter has been sent to the union government seeking to extend the time line for completing the project and a response is awaited,” said Justice S. Siri Jagan, chairman of the High Power Committee.

He attributed the long-delay in resumption of works to the pandemic wave that followed the mega floods. “A couple of meetings were held during this period but the work did not really take off owing to the practical difficulties involved in reviewing the works and issuing directions to the contractor,” added .

As per details available with the Swadesh Darshan Division of the Union Tourism Ministry, only 15.35 % of the project has been completed while ₹ 19.70 crore out of the ₹ 19.99 crore has already been utilized. The details were accessed through a Right To Information query, filed by the Kochi-based activist Govindan Nampoothiri.

“These facts fly in the face of a Facebook post by the Union Minister V. Muraleedharan in February this year that ₹ 100 crore has already been given for the project,” he noted.

Meanwhile, official sources pointed out the need to rework the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the spiritual circuit prepared by a private consultant, which was at sharp variance to the Sabarimala master plan. As per this, at least 20 % of the project could not be implemented.

“While the master plan envisages decongesting the hilltop, which falls within the Periyar Tiger Reserve by establishing a township at Nilackal, this project seeks to proceed in the reverse direction,” pointed a senior official.

The Erumeli-Pampa-Sannidhanam spiritual circuit envisage establishing enhanced facilities for Ayyappa devotees including solid waste management and sewage treatment systems.


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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 12:49:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/long-stalled-spiritual-circuit-in-sabarimala-to-resume-amidst-uncertainties-over-funding/article35506501.ece

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