Stale appams served at Sabarimala

The Sabarimala temple authorities are allegedly serving fungus-affected appams (sweetmeats) to pilgrims, despite the state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board promising good quality appam and aravana.

The authorities have not yet withdrawn the spoilt lot, despite complaints by the pilgrims.
A devotee from Thiruvananthapuram said 30 of the 50 packets of appam he bought were found spoiled. Several other pilgrims had similar complaints. It is said that high moister content in the appam and poor quality of ingredients used have triggered the growth of fungus.

Authorities concerned started preparing appam and aravana two weeks ago, to meet the high demand. Sources said around one lakh packets of appam, each containing three pieces, are sold daily.

Food Safety Authority personnel have started an investigation into the matter. Devaswom Commissioner N Vasu told Deccan Herald that people have mistaken a layer of ghee for fungus. He said plantains were added this year to improve the quality of appam, as advised by the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore. “But it has not yielded desired results.’’

Plantains will not be added in the coming days, as directed by the Food Safety Commissioner, and the lot with the ghee deposit has been withdrawn, Vasu said.

Child labour

Meanwhile, police have arrested two men from Tamil Nadu for allegedly smuggling young boys to Sabarimala to work at hotels and shops. A hotel owner has also been held for engaging them. Based on disclosures by the duo, the police have rescued 180 boys from various hotels and shops in and around Sabarimala.

Vijayan, the police chief at Sabarimala, said raids will be intensified in the coming days and child labour, which is completely banned in the state, will not be permitted there.

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