Aiming at mobilising about Rs 150 crore for providing basic amenities to lakhs of pilgrims thronging the Lord Ayyappa shrine every year,a trust formed to implement the Sabarimala master plan has decided to tap various state governments and foreign NRIs.
The Sabarimala Master Plan Infrastructure Fund Trust plans to undertake visits to various places during coming December-January in this regard,said M Rajagopalan Nair,president of Travancore Devaswom Board which administers the hill shrine.
Initially we propose to raise Rs 150 crore from different state governments and even go to Gulf countries and Malaysia where there are lot of Keralites, he said.
A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Trust which met over the last weekend. The meeting was attended by trust members,including Prime Minister’s Advisor T K A Nair,former Supreme Court judge Arijit Passayat,industrialist G N Rao and Shobha Developers Chairman P N C Menon.
The proposal would be placed before a meeting convened on October 23 by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at Kottayam,Nair said.
The funds will be used to implement the first phase of the master plan,that is,for providing basic facilities to devotees.
The comprehensive Master Plan,approved by the TDB,Kerala government and the Supreme Court,has been prepared to meet the growing demands of the ever-increasing number of pilgrims.
Consequently,the Sabarimala Master Plan Infrastructure Fund has been registered to mobilise resources and sponsorship for these projects,Nai said.
In the initial phase works including building sewage treatment plants,rope way,check dams,improvement of parking areas,service roads are planned to be taken up at a tentative cost of Rs 500 crore.
Nair said the trust proposes to construct a food court and prasdam complex,reconstruct the ‘Nadapandhal’ and take up the development of Nilakkal base camp leading to the holy hillock.
Now we are constructing a bailey bridge and connecting routes behind the temple that will be used for pilgrims when they return from the shrine, he said. Vehicular traffic will be regulated through the Satram route.
It was during the pilgrim season on January 15 this year that 102 pilgrims were killed and several others injured in a stampede while pilgrims were returning after witnessing the ‘Makaravillakku’ (celestial light) at Pullmedu.
The Pullmedu route would be closed for vehicular traffic but pilgrims would be allowed to take the route,he said.
As the two-month pilgrim season is set to commence next month at Sabarimala,TDB has made all preparations to ensure that devotees are not put to any hardships,officials said.