As the annual pilgrimage season is progressing at Sabarimala, the Kerala government is making all efforts to make it a "green" affair by avoiding plastic articles and promoting the use of eco-friendly products. The use of plastic carry bags and other such articles by the pilgrims had raised serious environmental concerns during the previous seasons at the hill shrine, nestled in a reserve forest in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats.
Titled "Mission Green Sabarimala," the initiative, which aims at strictly enforcing the green protocol at the shrine and its premises, is being implemented by the Suchitwa Mission, the state's nodal agency for sanitation and the local civic body.
A 24 x 7 counter has been opened at the Chengannur railway station, the nearest on the way to Sabarimala, for the distribution of eco-friendly cloth bags, authorities said.
They can exchange the plastic articles and accept 'thuni sanchi', (cloth bags), from there, free of cost, they said.
Besides this, post-cards, with messages urging not to abandon plastic articles or clothes in the holy river Pampa are also distributed among pilgrims.
The cards, brought out in five languages, also have details of the rituals of the shrine, they added.
The temple is witnessing a heavy rush of pilgrims and over seven lakh ayyappa devotees had offered darshan at the shrine since the opening of the temple on November 16 for the two month long Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrim season.