District administration plans to set up drinking water and sanitary facilities for visitors to the shrine

Parvathamalai, a shrine meant for Lord Mallikarjunar, is all set to get a facelift to ensure the comfort and safety of devotees. It is located at a height of 4,560 feet at Kalasapakkam union in Tiruvannamalai district.

Thanks to social media groups like ‘Save Parvathamalai’, the district administration has initiated an action plan to restore the hilltop temple.

The weekend cleaning work started on February 2. The call given by the District Collector and other social media groups resulted in over 1,500 volunteers pouring in from Tiruvannamalai, Vellore, Villupuram, Cuddalore and even Andhra Pradesh.

They were placed into groups headed by officials from the police, Fire and Rescue Services, Health, Forest and Revenue Departments. The initiative was led by District Collector K.S. Kandasamy. The teams removed a total of 2.5 tonnes of plastic waste with around 90% of the waste being water bottles. The Collector said, “As we had already announced the drive, the collected trash was immediately taken away for recycling.”

Mr. Kandasamy said, “As there are no water sources in the pathway leading to the top, visitors are forced to buy water bottles which they discard after use. This results in plastic waste accumulating on the mountain. Moreover, they get washed away by rain and end up clogging nearby water sources.”

Temporary solution
The Collector held a series of discussions with volunteers and brainstormed several short term measures to reduce the accumulation of plastic waste on Parvathamalai. It was decided that temporary trash bins along with posters would be set up to direct climbers to the nearest ones. This would ensure that plastic bottles were not discarded out in the open.

It was an uphill task for volunteers to clear bushes along the mountain which were filled with plastic cups, plates and water bottles. They were assisted by individuals from nearby localities trained in climbing rocky surfaces.

“If we provide water points en route to the hill top and place noticeboards indicating their location, we feel visitors will not be forced to opt for plastic bottles and this will hopefully reduce plastic waste considerably,” Mr. Kandasamy said.

The district administration has chalked out a plan to provide water and sanitary facilities for devotees with help from the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board, non-governmental organisations and corporate houses. “A detailed project report has been formalised at an estimated cost of ₹1.28 crore, which will be taken up in the coming months,” he added.

About ₹24.20 lakh will be spent by the HR&CE Department to provide drinking water and sanitary facilities in the Karaikandeeswarar and Mallikarjuna temples on the hilltop. Nearly ₹90 lakh will be spent on borewells at the ground-level to ensure water supply to the hilltop. An additional ₹14 lakh will be spent to replace lightning conductors, according to the estimates prepared by district administration.