Batu Caves temple committee in hot water with Putrajaya over staircase renovation

A. Ruban
The colourful steps leading to the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Putrajaya has said it is disappointed with Batu Caves temple management for giving its staircase a new lick of paint, saying the renovation was not approve by the National Heritage Department.

The department will now issue a warning letter to the Batu Caves Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam committee for violating regulations over Section 40 of the National Heritage Act 2005.

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik was quoted as saying that the management must first get the nod from the department, and the absence of the application was a violation of the regulations.

“I am very disappointed with the building management (Tan Sri R. Nadarajah), especially when the department’s officers informed me that they had met his son Datuk N. Sivakumar a few times, advising him that any renovation or painting job within 200m of the heritage site requires written permission from the department,” he was quoted as saying in The Star Online.

“He was aware that any building registered under the heritage registry must comply with the regulations under the Act,” he added.

He explained that the approval of the Heritage Department must be made before submitting an application with the local council, and in this case being the Selayang Municipal Council.

Muhammad Bakhtiar, however, said the violation would not result in the temple being de-listed from the heritage registry.

“We cannot simply do that, considering the amount of time and effort spent getting the temple registered as a national heritage site in the first place.

“But they must respect the rules and follow accordingly. In fact, I hope this message goes out to all building owners whose buildings are registered as national heritage — to not simply carry out renovation or painting jobs without first getting consent from the heritage commissioner,” he was quoted as saying.

Section 40 of the Act, he said, clearly stipulates the specific guidelines that must be adhered to before a renovation work begins.

“For the Batu Caves Temple, the main staircase leading up to the cave temple is within the Batu Caves reserve and bordering Lot 1197, 4557 and 6020 which have been designated as national heritage sites and require permission from the department for any upgrading work.

“I was told that the commissioner (heritage) was not consulted and a team was sent to check on the work recently. I was informed that the painting [job] has disturbed the harmony, integrity and originality of Batu Caves,” he was quoted as saying.

It was reported that Batu Caves had the staircase painted five days ago and that all 13 temples in its vicinity underwent renovations at a cost of RM6.1 million.

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