With hardly four months left for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season, work on many pilgrim amenity projects at Sabarimala is progressing at a snail’s pace.

The cold war between the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the high power committee (HPC) for implementation of various Sabarimala master plan projects is affecting many development works at the pilgrim centre.

Though the TDB and HPC had announced major projects soon after the culmination of the previous season, little steps had been taken to that effect, said D. Vijayakumar, vice president, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom.

Payment not released

Work on the Annadana Mandapam at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam, with a total plinth area of 1.5 lakh sq ft, is yet to completed as the HPC has not released payment to the contractor.

HPC chairman S. Sirijagan has brought to the notice of the Kerala High Court certain procedural irregularities in the execution of the project. The HPC chief is of the stand that the TDB chief engineer has submitted a revised estimate for the amounts far exceeding the contract amount, after doing the work without obtaining the HPC’s approval and seeking orders of the court for processing the same.

The case with the construction of the new resting hall for pilgrims at Nilackal and that of the toilet block at the Sannidhanam too remains the same.

Both the TDB and the HPC had taken the Annadana Mandapam project as its flagship project.

The HPC would construct the exit route for pilgrims at a cost of Rs. 25 crore. The technical committee of the HPC has evaluated the two expression of interests received from a Kochi firm and from the State-run Kerala Electrical and Allied (KEL) Engineering Company Limited.

The committee has invited both the firms for a detailed presentation.

According to the HPC chairman, the proposed exit route will be constructed between the area behind the Police Barracks at Malikappuram and the Chandranandan road.

The proposed exit route has been planned in view of the security threat posing the Lower Tirumuttom where pilgrims converge during rush days.

New water tank

The work on the new water tank with a capacity to store 36 lakh litres was under way at Paandithavalam with a view to augmenting the water storage capacity at the Sannidhanam to 2.5 crore litres. Though the Chief Minister had laid the foundation stone for the Punyadarshanam guest house project three months ago, the work is yet to take off.

Similarly, the shifting of the Bhandarom at Sannidhanam too is unlikely this year as the conveyor and other mechanical installations have not yet begun.

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