Kottayam: Sabarimala is facing an unexpected shortage of jaggery required to prepare ‘prasadams’ during the pilgrimage season.
A Maharashtra company that had taken the contract to supply jaggery has failed to deliver it forcing the Travancore Devaswom Board to depend on local purchases as the pilgrim season will begin on Saturday.
Jaggery is an essential component in the preparation of aravana, sharkara payasam and appam given to the pilgrims.
The TDB has issued orders to purchase 10 lakh kilograms of jaggery locally and the amount will be realised from the Maharashtra firm, said sources.
The firm had taken the contract through auction to supply 40 lakh kg of jaggery for one year at a price of Rs 31.70 per kg. But it could not deliver it due to the heavy rain in the sugarcane fields of that state.
TDB executive officer V.S. Rajendra Prasad said that since the beginning of November, appam and aravana were being made using the four lakh kg left behind from last year’s supply.
An estimated 1.5 crore tins of aravana will be made this year. Last year, jaggery had reached Sabarimala by October 25. Nearly 35 lakh kg of jaggery is needed for the pilgrim season and four to five lakh for the rest of the year. The local purchases involved large-scale corruption as there are no parameters to streamline the deals, sources said.
The Central Vigilance Commission had recommended that the contract should be given to the auctioneer who quotes the lowest amount.