Kerala seeks support of all southern States

Kerala has sought the cooperation of all the southern States in implementing the Supreme Court verdict granting unrestricted entry to women at the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.

“The State government has the constitutional obligation to implement the orders of the Supreme Court. The cooperation of all States is required in implementing the order,” Minister for Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran said while inaugurating a meeting of senior officials of the southern States convened on Wednesday to discuss the arrangements of the Sabarimala pilgrimage from November 16.

“Sabarimala is a centre of peace and hope for the devotees. I am sure with your cooperation we can ensure a hassle-free pilgrimage,” the Minister said.

Plastic had been banned in the hill shrine as per the orders of High Court and plastic would not be allowed in Irumudikkettu. The Minister appealed to the officials to create awareness through media among the Ayyappa devotees in their States not to bring plastic items.

On the campaign against donating cash in Sabarimala and other temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), Mr. Surendran said the State was not using the temple funds.

On the other hand, the government granted funds for the administration of temples.

Every year roughly 40 to 45 devotees died of heart attacks during the trek to the hill shrine, the Minister said and highlighted the need for devotees to undergo a health check-up before coming to Sabarimala.

Restoration works

On flood-inflicted damage, Mr. Surendran said the restoration works at Pampa and construction of additional facilities at the Nilackal base camp were nearing completion. This included a facility for accommodating 10,000 pilgrims, parking of 20,000 vehicles apart from providing facilities for drinking water, toilet blocks and STP that would be ready by November 11.

The devotees would be regulated from Nilackal and the KSRTC will run chain service from Nilackal to Pampa and back. No private vehicle would he allowed beyond Nilackal, he said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Endowments) Tamil Nadu Apoorva Varma; Principal Secretary, Karnataka, Gangaram Banderiya; and Commissioners of Endowment and other officials from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Puducherry were present.

It was meant to be a meeting of the Ministers of the southern States, but none of them turned up.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was to inaugurate it, also did not arrive.

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