Cloud of uncertainty hangs over cleaning drive Punyam Poonkavanam in Sabarimala

6 days ago 20

Over the years, it has successfully confronted the accumulation of garbage on the holy hillock and ushered in the concept of responsible pilgrimage. But 12 years after its launch, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over Punyam Poonkavanam – a flagship scheme by the Kerala Police.

The launch of a similar scheme by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) this pilgrimage season has now triggered speculations over the police looking to back out from the cleaning programme in a phased manner. The development is attributed to opposition by a section of officers within the force, raised against the backdrop of a recent Kerala High Court directive against the involvement of judicial officers in ‘Kodathi Vilakku’ at the Guruvayur temple.

“They regard Punyam Poonkavanam as an additional burden on the policemen on duty in the pilgrimage zone and maintain that the responsibility of keeping the temple and its premises clean should now be left to the Sabarimala Sanitation Society,” said an official.

The TDB, on its part, too has come up with a separate project, Pavithram Sabarimala, to keep the pilgrimage zone clean. “The drive, being initiated through the TDB employees and members of the Vishudhi Sena, almost runs parallel to the police scheme. It appears as if the TDB has a got wind of the mood within the force,” added the official.

When contacted, P. Vijayan, Inspector General of Police who coordinates the scheme, said the cleanliness initiative had been part of the State police’s security plan in Sabarimala during the ongoing pilgrimage season as well. “Officers have been designated at the hill top, Pampa and Erumely for coordinating the cleaning drive, which has now become a routine affair in the pilgrimage zone,” he said.

As to whether the TDB ran parallel to it, Mr. Vijayan replied that Punyam Poonkavanam was more than just about cleaning the temple premises. “This is a project that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and focuses on turning the whole process of pilgrimage a responsible act,” he pointed out.

A movement founded by Mr. Vijayan during his tenure as the Police Special Officer at Sabarimala, the Punyam Poonkavanam project is now run at 1,869 centres across the five South Indian States and has over 10,000 volunteers. Several top executives, including the Kerala Governor, Supreme Court and High Court judges have associated themselves with the project, which has also received recognition as a model project in the Swachh  Bharat Abhiyan campaign of the Union government.

Read Entire Article