Don’t Convert Sabarimala Into a City, Appeals Gurukkal

Don’t declare Sabarimala a city as it will have far-reaching ecological and legal consequences, appealed historian Rajan Gurukkal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He made the appeal in view of Travancore Devaswom Board’s (TDB) plan “to convert Sabarimala into a city and an international pilgrimage centre”.

In his appeal, as reported by The Hindu, Gurukkal, a member of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, says, “Sabarimala is legally an enclave right inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, foremost among the best protected wildlife sanctuaries in the country.”

Rajan Gurukkal is an acclaimed social scientist and historian
Rajan Gurukkal is an acclaimed social scientist and historian

He adds that he has made several human ecological studies of Sabarimala and impact assessments of development activities there and accused TDB of seeing Sabarimala only as a money-making site.

“The TDB has no respect for the national laws of nature conservation and that it never understands Sabarimala as an eco-sensitive hotspot in the low-altitude wet evergreen forests in the Western Ghats, rather than a money-spinning site for exploiting the pilgrims.”

Sabarimala at night. Photo by N P Jayan
Sabarimala at night. Photo by N P Jayan

Further, he says that any move to declare Sabarimala a city is against national laws and in gross violation of Supreme Court orders. It is also against the Supreme Court order I.A.No.1373 in WP (C) No.202 of 1995 banning the diversion of the forestland.

“The new scheme to urbanise Sabarimala involves massive deforestation all in the name of pilgrims’ welfare, but truly for urbanisation and commercialisation,” Gurukkal said in his appeal.

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