Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 11: In an attempt to make Sabarimala Ayyappa temple plastic-free during the coming Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival, the Kerala Forest Department has taken an initiative for distributing distilled drinking water to pilgrims, state Forest Minister Binoy Viswam said today.
Talking to reporters here, he said the Forest Department had collected more than four crore empty plastic water bottles during the last pilgrimage season, which prompted it to think about an alternative to overcome the menace.
The water will be high quality and bottled by the Forest Department, he said and added that the government was awaiting the approval of the Bureau of Indian Standard.
Mr Viswam said the department would distribute 2.5 lakh bottles, with Rs 12 per bottle to the devotees. And as part of avoiding the devotees throwing out the bottles after drinking the water, it would provide the water at Rs 11, if the devotees returned the empty bottles at the outlets.
The aim of giving the concession was to get back the empty bottles to the Department, instead of throwing them out in the forest, he added.
Stating that the Forest Department was not for any controversy about the brand name of the water, ''Sabari theertam,'' he said if there was any objection in the name, the Department was ready to change it.