Drastic fall in sale of aravana and appam
A week into the 41-day Mandalam pilgrim season, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) is experiencing a never-before downturn in its revenue collection at Sabarimala.
Thanks to the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in the wake of the ongoing protests under the aegis of the Sangh Parivar organisations against the Supreme Court verdict of September 28 permitting the entry of women of all ages to the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, there has been a drastic fall in number of pilgrims visiting the hill shrine.
Dip in aravana sales
The sale of Aravana, the most-sought-after Sabarimala prasadom, was badly affected in the first week of the ongoing season.
The TDB could sell only around 2.4 lakh cans of aravana in seven days against the sale of over 10 lakh cans during the same period the previous year, sources said. Similarly, the appam sale during the first seven days was below 50,000 packets. This is against the average daily sale of 60,000 packets during the last pilgrim season.
The hundi collection too has been reportedly fallen by 70% during the first week, in comparison to the same period during the previous pilgrim season.
With fewer takers, the TDB stopped Aravana production from 4 p.m. on Thursday as it already had a buffer stock of 29 lakh cans of aravana. The appam production was stopped three days ago. The TDB has already got a stock of two lakh packets of appam as on Thursday afternoon.
KSRTC too hit
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) that conducts Sabarimala special services and the traders, especially hoteliers, at the pilgrim centre too have started experiencing a fall in their earnings.
The KSRTC has reportedly withdrawn as many as 60 special buses following a 30% drop in its collection from the Sabarimala special services.
The TDB is struggling to complete the auctioning of the right to run various shops at Sabarimala, Pampa, Nilackal and Plappally. Of the 220 shops up for auction, only 150 found takers and many who had signed the contract with the board appeared to be reluctant to remit the security deposit for fear of losing money if the curbs on pilgrim movement persisted for long.
Though the TDB had set apart 530 rooms for rent at the Sannidhanam, hardly 200 rooms had been taken up as there were curbs on pilgrims staying at the holy hillock.
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