Kerala Government To Begin Rebuilding Gateway To Sabarimala Temple On War Footing The Sabarimala shrine. (Shankar/The India Today Group/Getty Images)

Kerala government will appoint an IAS official as a special officer to coordinate restoration works at Pamba river ghat on the foothills of Sabarimala. Pamba, the base from where Ayyappa pilgrims trek up the hills to worship, has borne massive destruction during the recent deluge following torrential rains.

Press Trust of India reported that a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Pinarayai Vijayan on 29 August decided to get an expert agency to study the infrastructure needs of the region and begin construction on a war footing. The special officer will coordinate all the development works.

Heavy rains and floods have damaged the roads leading to Pamba besides washing away a couple of bridges. Buildings, including shops, have been destroyed, pathways flooded and lamp posts uprooted. A toilet complex and a parking lot were washed away, while a pump house at the foothill and a small hospital have been damaged.

Already, the Army has been entrusted with the job of constructing three Bailey bridges before 15 November, when the three-month annual pilgrim season begins. The Kerala government would want the infrastructure for pilgrims to be in place by that time. The state has also decided not to allow any concrete construction anymore.

Heavy rains under the influence of south-west monsoon that began on May 29 have filled up all the reservoirs in the State, leading to release of water in 80 dams in the state. This led to 10 of the 14 districts getting affected. Nearly 370 lives were lost and over three lakh houses damaged. Some 10,000 km of roads have also been affected and the Kerala government is estimating at over Rs 20,000 crore.

Losses at Pamba have been estimated at Rs 100 crore. During the annual pilgrimage season during November 2017-January 2018, the Ayyappa temple’s revenue hit a record Rs 203 crore. At least 40 million devotees are estimated to visit Sabarimala every year.

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