THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sabarimala pilgrims will get a FASTag-based parking facility at Nilakkal during the upcoming annual pilgrimage season. Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president K Ananthagopan said the facility will be launched with the technical support of ICICI bank. Parking fees will not be increased.
“As per the bank’s calculation, the total collection will be around Rs 10 crore while TDB has a conservative estimate of Rs 5 crore,” Ananthagopan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.
The board inked an agreement with the ICICI bank in this regard on Thursday, and the latter will start work on the infrastructure arrangements on Friday. As per the revenue sharing agreement, the bank will get 2.1% of the fees collected, of which 1.50% is for the FASTag authority.
The TDB has also entered into agreements with two banks — ICICI and South Indian Bank — for digi payment facilities at all temples. Debit card and credit card payment options, QR code and swiping payment facilities will be made available at major temples.
Metal detectors will be placed at the entrance of the ‘Bhandaram’ — the room where the money offerings are counted — of Sabarimala. This is to minimise physical body check on the counting staff. An emergency exit will also be set up there. About 75% work of the folding roof over the 18 holy steps have been completed, he said.
He said the TDB’s gold monetisation scheme has received the High Court’s sanction. The SBI’s Mumbai branch is the agent executing the scheme. Under this, gold collection with the TDB, except ornaments used for daily and festival rituals and those of antique value, will be melted and deposited with the RBI. The TDB will deposit 500kg of gold in the first phase and the expected revenue is Rs 5.50-Rs 6 crore per year. The deposit will be returned as gold bars or money whenever the TDB places a demand.
Ananthagopan said a fuel pump will be opened on the premises of the TDB headquarters shortly, which is expected to generate revenue of about Rs 1 crore per year.