The Kerala High Court today set aside the permission granted by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to a Delhi-based trust to hold a nine-day-long 'Ramakatha' programme in Pamba-Triveni Manalppuram area of Pathanamthitta district, saying the site in question cannot be used exclusively for any such activity.

A Bench of Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice P G Ajithkumar said that the site in question was meant for providing facilities to devotees arriving for 'darshan' or pilgrimage and therefore, a programme meant exclusively for followers of the trust cannot be permitted there.

The High Court also directed the Delhi-based Nandkishore Bajoria Charitable Trust to "forthwith" remove all the temporary structures, like tents and fencing, they had put up at the site.

The trust clarified that the programme was proposed to be held exclusively for its members in view of the COVID-19 restrictions.

The Court, however, said, "Whatever may be the stand of the Respondent 10 (trust), no land in Pamba Manalppuram can be exclusively used for any such activity, thereby causing inconvenience to the pilgrims."

"We find that Respondent 10 is not entitled to conduct the programme as proposed by it," the Bench added.

It also said that the permission granted by TDB "cannot be sustained".

It also said that in future, before granting any such permission, the TDB should consult the forest authorities as the area in question falls close to the Periyar Tiger Reserve's boundaries.

The order came on a plea initiated by the court on its own based on a news report which said the Board had already issued orders leasing out the area to the trust for the programme and steps were been taken to clean the surroundings, put up a 'pandal' and lease out the parking area and helipad at Nilakkal.

With PTI inputs