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`Implement recommendations on Sabarimala'

By Our Staff Reporter

PATHANAMTHITTA, JUNE 14. The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom (ABASS) central committee member, D. Vijayakumar, has called upon the Government to initiate immediate steps to implement the major recommendations in the report submitted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Sabarimala development in January.

In a statement here today, Mr. Vijayakumar alleged that neither the State Government nor the Union Government had taken any interest in the PAC report that had recommended the allotment of more forest land for Sabarimala development.

The ABASS has sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, seeking his immediate intervention on the matter and to ensure a provision for maximum possible pilgrim facilities at Sabarimala, Mr. Vijayakumar said.

The ABASS leader alleged that the State Government, which was supposed to ensure adequate basic facilities at Sabarimala, had miserably failed to follow-up the crucial recommendations of the PAC chaired by the former Union Minister, Buta Singh, and ensure allotment of more forest land.

The PAC that had visited Sabarimala on January 14, the Makaravilakku Day, had maintained that Ayyappa devotees coming from different parts of the country were facing untold hardships at the holy hillock due to the grossly inadequate basic facilities there.

The PAC chairman had observed that the treatment being meted out to the Ayyappa devotees at Sabarimala were "inhuman'' and had stressed the need to allot more forest land to provide basic facilities to them, the ABASS leader said.

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had sought the de-linking of 500 hectares of forest land that houses the temple and the sacred grove from the southern fringe of the Periyar Tiger Reserve with a view to providing more facilities for the pilgrims and to protect the sacred grove, Mr. Vijayakumar said.

The indifference on the part of the Government towards Sabarimala was evident in its failure to fill up the vacancies of two TDB member posts, despite it being remaining vacant for the past eight months, he alleged.

Road repairs

Mr. Vijayakumar criticised the reported move to entrust the repair of certain Sabarimala roads to the local bodies.

According to him, the local bodies have been facing acute financial crunch and the Government move would only worsen the prevailing condition of various rural roads leading to Sabarimala.

He said it was better to prepare an annual development plan for Sabarimala a year in advance so that it could be implemented properly at least one month prior to the beginning of the next Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.

Sloppy work in eleventh hour would do more harm than good, Mr. Vijayakumar said.

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