: The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABass) has called for delinking Sabarimala and surrounding areas from the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Speaking at a Meet the Press programme here on Wednesday, ABASS national vice-president D. Vijayakumar said the report submitted by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament chaired by the late Buta Singh had recommended that Sabarimala, located in the buffer zone of PTR, should be delinked from the tiger reserve in the larger interests of improving basic pilgrim amenities. Mohan K.Nair, ABASS treasurer, and V.K.Rajagopal, State vice-president, were present at the meet.
Lack of co-ordination
Mr. Vijayakumar alleged that lack of co-ordination among various government departments has adversely affected the smooth conduct of
the Sabarimala pilgrimage. Various meetings held at the government level too had been found to be a failure in addressing the genuine problems faced by pilgrims, he said.
He said the government was yet to take up fool-proof measures to ensure supply of safe drinking water to Sabarimala.
The project to augment the storage capacity of the Kunnar dam still remained a non-starter following objections raised by the Forest Department.
The Forest Department had obstructed the resurfacing work on the trekking path as well as the work on the Marakkoottom underpass project, he said
Plea to reopen road
The ABASS leaders stressed the need to reopen the Kozhikkanam-Uppupara road for regulated vehicular traffic to mitigate the hardships faced by pilgrims from Tamil Nadu and other South Indian States via Kumily.
The Forest Department had closed the road to vehicular traffic following the Pulmedu mishap that claimed 102 lives in 2011.
Mr. Vijayakumar also called for setting up a separate Sabarimala division in the Public Works Department.
The ABASS leaders said the government should ensure basic healthcare facility and other pilgrim facilities along the Azhutha-Karimala
traditional forest path leading to Sabarimala.
They alleged that the Eco Development Committees (EDC) of the Forest Department have been fleecing pilgrims at their seasonal shops and eateries. Certain quarters attached to EDC shops were even creating problems in a bid to scuttle the Annadanam scheme to provide free food to the pilgrims at Karimala, he alleged.
Mr Vijayakumar said the government should give grace marks to children who serve as volunteers at Sabarimala.
The ABASS leaders said the TDB should install a moving platform in front of the temple sopanam to facilitate smooth and trouble-free darshan of the deity. They also sought quick completion of the proposed ropeway project between Pampa and Sannidhanam.