Problems in constructing proposed stand-alone structure: committee head

The expert committee on the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here will seek the permission of the Supreme Court to store inventoried items in the temple's six vaults in one of them itself instead of constructing a stand-alone storage structure as proposed earlier.

The committee head M.V. Nair told The Hindu here that there were problems in constructing a new stand-alone safety vault inside the temple.

“The temple is a heritage structure. An expert examined possible locations where such a structure could be built. However, such a vault, if constructed, should not be out of sync with the architectural nature of the temple. So we plan to ask the court whether we can strengthen an existing vault — vault C for instance — and store the inventoried items there itself,” he explained.

The committee's earlier proposal was to construct a modern, micro-climate, multi-chamber storage facility conforming to the Reserve Bank of India's security norms. The committee had even sought the permission of the apex court to consult an international agency on the vault's design. The court had agreed and the committee subsequently prepared an estimate for the same.

On Saturday the inventorying of articles in the temple vaults was suspended on account of the upcoming Painkuni festival. The inventorying will resume only on April 16, Mr. Nair said.

According to him, 90 per cent of the contents of vault C has been inventoried. More than 60 per cent of the contents of vaults E and F has also been inventoried. In comparison, vault D can be finished fast. Vault A would be a different cup of tea, he said. “Vault A contains a lot of jewels and precious stones. It cannot be inventoried this fast. The question of opening vault B does not arise now. That will be done only after getting the permission of the Supreme Court. A panel of experts in gems and jewellery has been submitted to the government. The government should now decide who should be selected,” he added.

Meantime, the police in a report submitted to Mr. Nair through Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar recommended that nine persons, including temple executive officer V.K. Harikumar and Archaeology Director Reji Kumar be kept away from inventorying. This advisory follows a background check mandated by the Supreme Court. “It is for the temple authorities to take a call on this now,” Mr. Nair said.

The next hearing of the temple case is scheduled on March 29.