Sabarimala: Devaswom Board asks SC for more time to implement order

Sabrimala Temple

New Delhi, Nov 19 : The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that manages the Sabarimala temple on Monday moved an application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to implement the apex court’s order allowing women of all age groups into the temple.

The Board has cited lack of infrastructure at the shrine post August’s devastating floods as also the simmering law and order situation amid a section of devotees resisting the entry of women.

The Supreme Court had on September 28 allowed the entry of women of all ages into the temple, where women aged 10-50 years (or menstruating age) were not traditionally allowed.

In response to a number of pleas, the apex court on November 13 agreed to hear all review petitions on January 22. Meanwhile, it has put no bar on the entry of women.

November 16 to January 20 is the pilgrimage season at Sabarimala.

“In order to cater to the entry of women and to ensure their safety and well-being, additional infrastructure such as restrooms, washrooms and other necessary facilities will have to be created at Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilakkal, for which the applicant would require some time so as to make additional arrangements to put such infrastructure in place,” the TDB said in its application.

It pointed out that even the “unprecedented security and efforts” by the state authorities have not “discouraged the protesters from threatening and impeding women devotees” from paying obeisance at the Sabarimala temple.

The security of women being the primary responsibility, “The applicant submits that at present, it is not in a position to provide that much of additional facilities for them,” it said.

The TDB emphasised at the outset in its application that it was “bound by the judgement dated September 28, 2018 passed by this court” and was “duty-bound to implement the same in letter and spirit”.

“However, the applicant is facing certain practical difficulties which has constrained it to approach this court. It is submitted that calamitous floods in August damaged and destroyed the infrastructure at Pampa and its surrounding areas which is the base camp of the pilgrimage for the devotees of Lord Ayyappa.

“The buildings, stalls, pilgrim shelters, toilet facilities, sewage network system etc were almost completely washed off,” it said.

It said the basic amenities at Nilakkal (where the base camp has been shifted to) and Pampa are being provided through temporary toilets and bio-toilets to meet the increasing needs of pilgrims.

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