TDB to raise funds for Sabarimala master plan

Aiming to mobilise about Rs 150 crore for providing much-needed facilities for the pilgrims thronging the Lord Ayyappa shrine in lakhs every year.

Kochi: Aiming to mobilise about Rs 150 crore
for providing much-needed facilities for the pilgrims
thronging the Lord Ayyappa shrine in lakhs every year, a trust
formed to implement the Sabarimala Master Plan has decided to
tap various state governments and NRIs in the Gulf countries
and Malaysia.

The Sabarimala Master Plan Infrastructure Fund Trust plans
to undertake visits during coming December-January in this
regard, a top official of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB),
administering the famous hill Shrine said.

"Initially we propose to raise Rs 150 crore from different
state governments and even go to Gulf countries and Malaysia
where there are a lot of Keralites", Board President M
Rajagopalan Nair said.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the
Trust which met here over the last week end. The meeting was
attended by trust members including Prime Minister`s Advisor
T K A Nair, former Supreme Court judge Arijit Passayat,
industrialist G N Rao and Shobha Developers Chairman P N C

The proposal would be placed before a meeting convened on
October 23 by Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy at Kottayam, Nair

The funds would be used to implement the first phase of the
masterplan for providing various facilities at the shrine
which receives an estimated three crore devotees during the
annual pilgrim season during November-January.

The comprehensive Master Plan, approved by the TDB, Kerala
Government and the Supreme Court, has been prepared to meet
the growing demands of the ever-increasing number of pilgrims.

Consequently, the Sabarimala Master Plan Infrastructure
Fund has been registered to mobilise resources and sponsorship
for these projects, Nai said.

In the initial phase works including building sewage
treatment plants, rope way, check dams, improvement of parking
areas, service roads are planned to be taken up at a tentative
cost of Rs 500 crore.

Nair said the trust proposes to construct a food court and
prasdam complex, reconstruct the `Nadapandhal` and take up the
development of Nilakkal base camp leading to the holy hillock.

"Now we are constructing a bailey bridge and connecting
routes behind the temple that will be used for pilgrims when
they return from the shrine", he said. Vehicular traffic will
be regulated through the Satram route.

It was during the pilgrim season on January 15 this year
that 102 pilgrims were killed and several others injured in a
stampede while pilgrims were returning after witnessing the
`Makaravillakku` (celestial light) at Pullmedu.

The Pullmedu route would be closed for vehicular traffic
but pilgrims would be allowed to take the route, he said.

As the two- month pilgrim season is set to commence next
month at Sabarimala, TDB has made all preparations to ensure
that devotees are not put to any hardships, officials said.


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