The CPM-led Kerala government on Wednesday sought the cooperation of other southern states in implementing the Supreme Court judgement allowing women of all ages entry to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran made an appeal in this connection at a conference attended by representatives of the southern states here.
During the conference, Karnataka informed other participants about “peaceful protests” held by pilgrims and organisations in the state, against the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple.
The meeting was called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss preparedness for the annual pilgrimage season but ministers of the four other states and the UT of Puducherry skipped the event. With the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana sending secretaries and other officials to the conference, Vijayan decided against attending it.
The conference had as top agenda deliberations on the implementation of the SC verdict. The Devaswom minister who inaugurated the conference said ministers could not attend the event due to prevailing political situations in their states. He said their absence was not connected to ongoing protests against the implementation of the SC judgment.
“In Tamil Nadu, there’s political turmoil; Karnataka has by-elections to three Lok Sabha and two Assembly constituencies. In Telangana, the model code of conduct is in place and a special Cabinet meeting has been called in Puducherry today. In Andhra too, there are local political issues,” he told reporters.
At the conference, Surendran said the state government had a Constitutional obligation to implement the apex court order.
The temple will open for the mandalam-makaravilakku pilgrimage season on November 16. Restoration works at Pampa which was severely affected by flooding in August are expected to be completed before November 15.
Nilakkal will replace flood-ravaged Pampa as the pilgrims’ base camp. A demand to reduce fares in KSRTC buses on the Sabarimala route was raised at the conference. Officials from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana said pilgrims from rural areas had difficulties in making the online reservation for darshan at the temple.
The green protocol will be implemented during the pilgrimage; plastic in any form will be banned, even in the irumudikettu, the double-headed kit with offerings to the deity pilgrims carry to the shrine. Discussions are on regarding signage in multiple languages and setting up of a centralised control room at the Sannidhanam or Pampa, a demand raised by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.