COIMBATORE: The Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments department (HR & CE) has yet to take steps to regulate crowd at Maruthamalai temple, despite their request to prevent human-animal conflict, Coimbatore forest division officials said.
According to sources, letters were sent twice to the Assistant Commissioner Maruthamalai temple (HR & CE) SV Harshinii by the Coimbatore forest range officer R Arun Kumar seeking to deploy their staff at the foothills to regulate crowd. “We requested (HR & CE) staff deploy at the foothills for crowd management as our staff will not be available all the time.
Apart from monitoring the foothills, our staff have to fill water troughs inside the forest for wild animals and engage in driving away the elephants that stray into IOB Colony and Somayampalayam etc. We reach the foothills and temple steps soon after getting information about wild elephant movement and chase them back into the forest,” said sources in the forest department.
Also, forest officials blamed (HR & CE) department for failing to regularly clean the premises and surroundings of the temple which attracts big cats and elephants. A huge pile of thonnaicups in which prasadam is given to devotees, along with water bottles, paper plates, and plastic bags were thrown inside the forest behind the temple by devotees. This attracts the wild elephants and leopards and they sometimes eat them and endanger their life, sources added.
However, Assistant Commissioner Maruthamalai Temple (HR & CE) SV Harshinii said they have deployed more than 10 volunteers out of which 3 are deployed at the foothills and the rest are controlling the crowd at the steps. “We have asked the forest dept to deploy staff for 20 days to prevent wild animal movement and can pay charges. We are cooperating with the forest department,” she said. She also denied that HRCE had dumped the garbage and said it was done by tribal people.
“It is the duty of the forest department to create awareness for tribal people and stop them from dumping waste. We are cleaning the area by engaging 16 sanitary staff daily apart from involving college students on a weekly basis. Soon we will stop devotees carrying plastic water bottles to the temple at the foothills,” she added.