The Kerala government on Wednesday denied that it was taking away money donated to the Sabarimala temple. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said there was a widespread campaign in Kerala and in other states against donating cash to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and other temples run by Devasom Boards.
"I use this opportunity to state clearly that the government of Kerala is not taking a single penny from the revenue of the temples," he said at a meeting of officials from southern states. "On the other hand, the Kerala government is granting huge funds for the administration of temples every year," said the Minister.
Surendran also explained that the Kerala government had a constitutional obligation to implement the Supreme Court order allowing all women to pray at the Sabarimala temple. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had convened a meeting of Devasom Ministers from the southern states to discuss the issues arising from the Supreme Court order. But only officials came to attend the meeting from other states.
Surendran told the meeting that consequent to the floods that hit the temple town, the government ordered restoration works at Pamba and additional facilities for the pilgrims at the Nilakkal base camp on way to the Sabarimala shrine.
The latter work was being done at an estimated amount of Rs 25 crore, he said.
"Almost all the works at Pamba and Nilakkal are nearing completion. This includes facility for accommodating 10,000 pilgrims, parking of 20,000 vehicles apart from providing facilities for drinking water, toilet blocks... These should be ready by November 11," he said.
He asked the officials to tell Ayyappa devotees not to bring any plastic items.