On an average, more than 15 million pilgrims trek the fragile evergreen forests around Sabarimala every year. A majority of these pilgrims arrive during the short two-month window period of Mandalam season from November to January.
Even if each one of these pilgrims generate just 500 gms of garbage, the cumulative effect of garbage created after one festival season is humungous. The toll of this piling garbage, year after year, is alarming on the forest and wild life around the shrine of Ayyappa. This led to the creation of Punyam Poonkavanam, a collective of agencies like Police, Devaswom, Departments of Health and Forest and Fire & Rescue, along with voluntary organisations like Ayyappa Seva Sangham and Ayyappa Seva Samajam.
Since 2011, honourable High Court of Kerala has appreciated this project in more than eight judgements and directed Government of Kerala and Departments of Devaswom and Police as well as devotees to work for success of the same.
Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi mentioned about this project in his monthly broadcast progamme ‘Mann ki Baat’. Union Government has listed this as a ‘model project’ under the prestigious ‘Swachch Bharat Abhiyan’.