In Kerala's Sabarimala temple, robots to man God’s wealth

  • Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Updated: Jun 10, 2015 08:50 IST

For the employees of the famous hill shrine Sabarimala their ‘brief’ discomfort is about to end. The temple is planning to deploy robots to count its money.

The plan is to have enough robots to man God’s vault by next year putting an end to theft from its coffers.

Employees of the money-counting centre at Sabarimala, one of the richest Hindu shrines in the country, were allowed to wear their inner wear only in 2008 after the intervention of the state human rights commission.

Fearing pilferage, earlier they were allowed to wear only a dhoti, a cotton wrap around the waist, with nothing underneath.

Kerala human rights commission had intervened allowing them to wear their brief and installed surveillance cameras near the vault and counting units.

Despite this employees allege they were subjected to inhuman naked body search in case of any doubt.

“Talk with a Bengaluru firm is progressing for a fully automated coffer unit. We have told about our specific requirement and a pilot run will be there soon,” said temple executive officer VS Jayakumar. During the three-month pilgrimage season (November to January) around 400 employees work at the counting centre in three shifts round the clock.

With the deployment of robots the temple feels that this workforce can be used for some other purposes — though the initial cost will be much higher (Rs 10-15 crore) the temple feels that it can recover it fast through a foolproof and efficient system.

The employees are yet to make their position clear “We are against pilferage of God’s money. We don’t mind robots but at the same time our jobs should be protected,” a spokesman of the Travancore Devasom Employees’ Union said.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala, situated in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta, is unique in many ways.

A pilgrim has to undertake 41 days’ fast abstaining from all worldly pleasures before undertaking the trek through dense Periyar tiger reserve (from base camp Pampa 5.5 km to hilltop shrine). Last year around 3.5 crore pilgrims (majority from Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) visited the temple.

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