The Kerala government today said it was mulling setting up amenities for pilgrims visiting Ayyappa hill shrine at Sabarimala similar to those available to devotees at Lord Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati.
"As per the directive of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, an expert team will soon leave for Tirupati to study the Tirumala model development projects," Minister for Devaswom and Tourism Kadakampally Surendran said. He said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has offered all help for studying the Tirumala model development.
Though the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is not open throughout the year, the three-month long November-January festival season at the hill shrine attracts lakhs of people from the country and abroad. Besides this season, the temple usually opens for five days in each Malayalam month for poojas.
Surendran said all developmental works would be taken up keeping in mind the fact that there was paucity of land as the the temple is situated in a forest. He said total revenue till Makaravillaku day on January 14 stood at Rs 255 crore, an increase of Rs 45 crore than that registered in the same period last year, he said.
Dismissing the charge that revenue collection at the temple was being diverted by the government, Surendran said government had on the other hand spent crores of Rupees to improve amenities for devotees during all the festival season. These included spending Rs 38 crore for various construction works at Sabarimala during the current season itself, the Minister said.
Admitting that waste management was one of the major problems at the hill shrine, he said the objective of the government and Travancore Devaswom Board, that manages the temple, was for a 'plastic free Sabarimala'. He claimed that waste at the pamba river at the foothills had come down to a great extent with the commissioning of a waste disposal plant at Sabarimala.
The Minister said government had banned plastic drinking water bottles to avoid the littering of of the temple area, which forms part of the Western ghats. The Kerala Water Authority supplied medicated drinking water to devotees at the forest trekking path, pamba and also at various centres where the devotees takes rest on their way to Sannidhanam, he added.