SABARIMALA: Trekking through the 21-km Sathram-Pulmedu forest trekking path to Lord Ayyappa temple here is an ordeal for the thousands pilgrims as the Forest Department denies even potable water to them.
The denial of basic facilities, especially potable water, on the strenuous trekking path during the six hours is causing severe hardships for the thousands of pilgrims who walk through the forest path during the peak Mandalam season and the 20-day Makaravilakku season days.
Though the serious issue was raised at the review meetings over the past seven pilgrimage seasons, no follow-up action was taken by the Forest Department till date. In the name of restrictions connected with the Periyar Tiger Reserve regulations, the Forest Department is not giving permission to the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham (ABASS), which was running a temporary camp to distribute free
medicated water and food items at Uppupara during the past two decades, to set up the camp facility after the Pulmedu tragedy in 2004.
The department’s negative attitude toward Sabarimala pilgrims came into the open with the denial of permission to the 30-odd eco-development committee (EDC)-run hotels and soft drink and snack outlets on the trekking path in the name of wildlife sanctuary norms since 2004.