New toilet complex getting ready for commissioning
Even as a new toilet complex is getting ready for commissioning at Nilackal, the absence of a sewage treatment plant (STP) poses a pollution threat to the main base camp of Sabarimala pilgrims, especially during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season.
Absence of a sewage treatment plant has been a major problem facing waste management at the Nilackal base camp. Moreover, Nilackal has been identified as the main base camp of pilgrims following destruction of the vehicle parking lots, toilet blocks, and other basic amenities at Pampa in the deluge of August last.
As of now, the Travancore Devaswom Board has provided 970 toilets at the Nilackal base camp, which is inadequate against the backdrop of the huge pilgrim turnout during the peak days of the pilgrim season. It may also be recalled that nearly 2,000 staff, including police personnel, too will be deployed on duty during the pilgrim season.
The High Power Committee (HPC) for implementation of the Sabarimala Master Plan is constructing yet another toilet block with 125 latrines and 50 bathrooms at Nilackal. The civil work is nearing completion so that it can be commissioned in November first week.
Neither the TDB nor the HPC has taken any step to set up an STP at Nilackal, exposing pilgrims to health risks.
While the HPC is for setting up a single STP with 10 mld capacity at Nilackal, the TDB works department says such a facility seldom serves the purpose as crowd movement there is restricted to periodic pilgrim seasons.
TDB engineers propose modular waste treatment plants at Nilackal which will enable the works department to operate the toilets in clusters as and when required.
The existing system of disposing the sewage from toilets at Nilackal in a 40-lakh litre oxidation tank is grossly inadequate and unscientific, say experts.