Sources said that 10 gondolas (called cabins, locally) have arrived at the temple from a Kolkatta-based company a few days ago. Once the pending work is completed, trial runs will start in the presence of HR&CE Minister PK Sekarbabu. Currently, ardent devotees have to climb up 1,450 steps to reach the temple while the old and infirm are carried in dholis for a charge of Rs 4,000 per head.
However, the work being repeatedly put on hold in the last 20 years has raised the bogey of jinx against the project being completed, sources said. It all started when the then Arakkonam MP N Gopal proposed a road to the hill top and after signing an agreement with the HR&CE department it was planned to cover 400 metres initially. Gopal brought a team of engineers from Bengaluru and completed the survey.
Then in 2001, Sholinghur MLA R Vilvanathan succeeded in getting the then CM Jayalalithaa to grant Rs 3 crore for the rope way project. But, the AIADMK lost power in the subsequent election in 2006. In 2011, close to the end of the DMK regime Sholinghur DMK MLA Arul Anbarasu got chief minister M Karunanidhi to grant Rs 6 crore for the project. The DMK government was removed from power after the bhoomi pooja for the project was performed.
In 2017, the AIADMK governemnt increased the allocation for the project to Rs 9.30 crore and the next year the then Sholinghur NG Parthiban provided help to the project, but subsequently he was disqualified. The last deadline given was March 2018, but again work was held up for various reasons and then the pandemic intervening resulted causing yet another hurdle.
Another pending issue was that the 50-odd Yadava community members, who carried dholis to ferry the pilgrims to the hill top sought alternate employment. Former MP Gopal when asked said, “this issue is yet to be settled to the satisfaction of the Yadava community.”