KOCHI: The High Court on Monday held that strict action should be taken against exploitation of pilgrims at Sannidhanam. A division bench comprising Justice CT Ravikumar and Justice N Nagaresh said there had been no attempt to enhance the quality and quantity of food served by vendors at Sabarimala to pilgrims despite the latter paying more money for food than what was charged elsewhere.
The bench made the observation while hearing the petition filed by G Anil Kumar, president, Sabarimala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi, seeking a directive to the government to revise food prices at Sabarimala. P Haridas, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that Travancore Devaswom Board increased minimum bid amount by 10 per cent every year for setting up shops at Sabarimala.
“Since auction is on competitive basis, the actual escalation of bid amount will be much higher. Prices of essential commodities have escalated as have transportation charges,” said the petition. Various materials are transported to Sannidhanam using tractors, it said. “In 2015, it cost Rs 750–Rs 800 to transport materials in a tractor,” said the petition. The petition said labour costs had increased since 2015.