Kerala invites southern states to develop Sabarimala

Rs 65 crore has been allocated for the development of the region

Kerala invites southern states to develop Sabarimala

With a renewed focus on developing Sabarimala shrine, the Kerala government has invited the three south Indian states to take part in the Sabarimala Masterplan project that aims at providing amenities to the pilgrims.

Kerala’s long-due plans to develop Nilakkal as a base camp for pilgrims visiting Sabarimala is a start. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are next in line to utilise the land allocated to these three states for setting up facilities. Karnataka has commenced ground work on the Karnataka Bhavan on about 4.5 acres of land earlier this year in a move to ensure better facilities to pilgrims from the state.

Kerala plans to streamline development in the region by inviting other states to be partners in the process. Sources said response from the Devaswom commissioners and endowment board officials from the other southern states during a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday was encouraging.

The Rs 75 crore-13 mld Kakkad drinking water project – tipped to address the issue of water scarcity at Nilakkal – is one initiative that Kerala hopes to partner with the three states. The proposal to open control rooms during the mandalam-makara vilakku season in the capital cities of the three states is another move to pursue a collaborative development model.

The state government has allocated Rs 65 crore for the development of the region in accordance with the Masterplan. The Finance Ministry has assured of releasing funds to create more amenities for the pilgrims. Through the Masterplan, the authorities have proposed to develop infrastructure and connectivity in the region while ensuring ecological balance and creating new facilities to match the rising number of pilgrims.

Trekking paths and projects to develop feeder towns, including Pathanamthitta and Vandiperiyar, also come under the Sabarimala Masterplan. Detailed development blueprints and announcements, however, have not ended criticism on the standards of amenities provided at the foothills.

Calls for greater safety measures have grown louder. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had taken up several issues with the Forest Department over some of the proposed development projects.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s request to the three southern states to utilise the allotted land comes ahead of the mandalam season. According to the state government figures, more than three crore pilgrims visit Sabarimala every year with a major share from outside Kerala.

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