Concerted effort needed to develop Guruvayur
A concerted effort by the State Government, the Guruvayur municipality and the Guruvayur Devaswom is needed to develop the temple township and to make it clean, especially during the Sabarimala season when a heavy rush is experienced at the temple.
The township lacks even basic facilities like sanitation, drinking water and parking space. The most important issue is that of sanitation.
The former chairman of the Guruvayur Devaswom, Prof. P.N. Narayanan, said,“It is the State Government that has to take the initiative to set up these facilities as the Devaswom lacks the space to do this on a large-scale in the township.”
“The State Government should set up comfort stations on the Thrissur-Guruvayur route and lease it to private parties,” Prof. Narayanan said.
The Guruvayur municipal councillor and `Keezhsanthi’ (lower priest) of the temple, Mr. Vengeri Raman Namboothiri, said the municipality had suggested setting up three comfort stations on a `built-operate-transfer’ (BOT) basis to the State Government six months ago. The comfort stations are proposed to be set up near the railway station, the East Nada, and at the Manjira Road near the Tahani Hospital.
He suggested that the more-than-one-acre of land owned by the Devaswom near the Guruvayur A.P.S. School, now used for rearing elephants during festivals, could be utilised for constructing comfort stations.
Lack of parking space is another major problem, especially during the Sabarimala season when a large number of vehicles come from the southern States. Mr. Namboothiri said that the municipality had forwarded some suggestions to the Centre through the State Government two months ago, when the Centre had called for suggestions regarding the development of the temple township as Guruvayur had been declared a `national pilgrim centre’ by the Centre. The municipality had suggested converting about three acres on the Mavinchuvadu premises for parking space. Another proposal is to set up a municipal private bus stand at the West Nada.
Land acquisition has always been a ticklish issue in Guruvayur. A divisional bench of the Kerala High Court had directed the Guruvayur Devaswom Committee in January 1999 (OP no. 271\99) to acquire 100 metres of land around the temple. The then Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee had recommended that the Government acquire 25 metres at first. But due to protests, the Government reduced it to 10 metres. Even that has not been implemented, Mr. K.G. Sukumaran Master, general convener of the Guruvayur Drainage Action Committee, alleged.
According to an estimate, only 15 per cent of the water requirements of the entire Guruvayur municipality is being served by the Kerala Water Authority. During the fag end of the previous LDF rule, a water supply scheme to provide water from the Karuvannur River in the district was proposed. “However, though Mr. P.K.K. Bava, MLA, showed interest initially, he did not pursue it,” Mr. Sukumaran Master said.
Mr. Namboothiri said the municipality is drafting a water supply scheme with the help of the State Government undertaking, Kinfra, for solving the water problem.
The setting up of a sewage treatment plant at Chakkamkandam in Guruvayur, originally conceived in 1974 has been hanging fire ever since. In 1980, about 80 per cent of the work was completed. However, in the 90’s, there was an agitation by the local people against the plant.
Later, it was decided to create a separate drinking water scheme for the area. A modern scientific sewage plant was mooted in place of the original sewage plant.
The LDF Government started the drinking water project with a loan of Rs. 10 crores from the Hudco. But the work is in its initial stage, and the functioning of the sewage plant is still a question mark.
The narrow road leading to Guruvayur is another obstacle in the development of the area. The widening works of the Guruvayur-Kunnamkulam, Guruvayur-Chettuva and Guruvayur-Chavakkad roads need to be undertaken on a war footing.
The Tourism Minister, Prof. K.V. Thomas, had declared that Guruvayur would be included in the pilgrim map. However, the chairman of the Guruvayur Devaswom, Mr. Venugopala Kurup, had told The Hindu in an interview earlier that the Government had not consulted the Devaswom on this regard yet.