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Kerala Govt urged to go by LEC master plan for Sabarimala

G.K. Nair

Kochi , Dec. 1

THE Pampa Parirakshana Samithi (PPS), a voluntary environmental organisation, has urged the State Government to implement the master plan for integrated development of Sabarimala submitted by the State Legislature's Environment Committee (LEC) instead of going for a fresh one to be prepared by an outside agency.

The LEC, which had studied the issues relating to the environmental pollution in Sabarimala, had prepared a master plan aimed at the needs for the next 25 years. It was submitted to the Assembly on August 6, 1998. The Samithi has appealed to the Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, to accept the master plan, which was prepared after extensive studies and discussions, and initiate immediate steps to implement it.

Instead of implementing this the Government had recently appointed a Delhi-based private consultancy firm to prepare a new master plan for Sabarimala, Mr N.K. Sukumaran Nair, General Secretary of PPS and member of State-level steering committee for Pampa Action Plan, told Business Line.

He said that the LEC of the 13th Assembly was headed by Prof A.V. Thamarakshan. The present Ministers, Dr M.K. Muneer and Mr K.C. Venugopal were also members of it. The master plan, which was prepared by a sub-committee of experts, was discussed in detail and finalised by the Legislature Committee before placing it before the Assembly.

Despite the recommendations of the committee that the plan should be implemented on a war footing for the integrated development of Sabarimala and Pampa, the Government has not yet considered the report even after six years, Mr Nair alleged.

The recommendations among other things included provision for accommodation to the pilgrims at Sabarimala, ensuring potable water supply, removal of garbage, augmentation of transportation facilities, development of transit camp at Nilakkal besides developing Pandalam, Aranmula, Pathanamthitta, Erumeli, Perunad, Vadasserikkara, Vandi Periyar, Pampa Sathram and Ranni etc., as transit centres of pilgrim importance. Italso envisages protection of environment and improving the quality of water in the Pampa River.

It has also recommended that on similar lines of the Sri Venkateswara Forest Development project implemented in Tirupathi, a Forest Conservation Project with the assistance of the State Forest Department should be taken up.

The developmental schemes, included in the master plan, are aimed at preserving the serenity and sanctity of the forest temple and without damaging or destroying the tropical forests any more, he said.

He also cited the reports of scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences, which had already warned of serious consequences if the forests around the temple were destroyed and concrete jungles created in its place. According to him, 250 acres of land available with the forest department at Nilakkal could be developed scientifically as envisaged in the plan. This would help avoid the flow of pollutants into Pampa.

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