‘Sabarimala violence second disaster after floods’: Kerala FM Thomas Isaac in Budget speech
Kerala finance minister has described the Sabarimala violence as a disaster and compared it with the massive floods that the state faced in 2018.
A day after the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that manages the Sabarimala temple in Kerala sought financial help from the Kerala government, state Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac described violence over entry into the Lord Ayyappa shrine following a Supreme Court verdict last year as “the second disaster” following the devastating floods in the state. Kerala witnessed massive floods in 2018 causing loss of over 400 lives and thousands of crores of properties.
The issue of entry into the Sabarimala temple has kept Kerala on the toes for several months during which, the Devaswom Board claims, the shrine has suffered major financial loss with right wing outfits asking the devotees not to make any donation at the hundis in the temples managed by the TDB.
Presenting state Budget for 2019-20 in the Kerala assembly on Thursday, Thomas Isaac said, “Rebuilding after the floods is a challenge before us. After floods, Sabarimala violence was the second disaster in the state.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the TDB sought financial aid from the Kerala government for the temple following drastic fall in revenue during the just concluded Mandala-Makaravillaku festival. Following the floods and recent protests over entry of women in the Sabarimala temple, the TDB is said to have suffered a dip of Rs 100 crore in its revenue.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) last year, the Supreme Court had declared the law prohibiting entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years in the Sabarimala temple as unconstitutional throwing the Lord Ayyappa shrine open to all. As the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government readied to implement the Supreme Court order, right wing outfits took to the streets protesting the decision.
On January 2, two women in their forties - Kanakadurga and Bindu - managed to trek the hill shrine with plain-clothed personnel and offered prayers. This led to a fresh wave of protests in Kerala. Later, the state government told the Supreme Court that more than 50 women in their menstrual age were facilitated entry in the Sabarimala temple during the two-month long pilgrimage season.
The 2018 floods of Kerala caused large-scale destruction in the state. Around 10,000 km of highways was destroyed in floods and resultant landslides. Over 45,000 hectare of farmland was damaged, more than 11,000 houses wrecked, and another 1,11,000 houses partially damaged. More than 400 people died in flood related incidents.