Even as crores of rupees is being set aside for renovation of temples, many temples in Malabar are facing the threat of closure thanks to the non-availability of employees. Many temple employees are shying away from their conventional profession for want of adequate remuneration and delay in payments.
Absence of a common scheme and common fund for temples in Malabar and an unscientific wage structure were the reasons for the impending threat of closure of temples, office-bearers of the Malabar Devaswom Staff Union, affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress, said.
In many temples, wages were being paid on the basis of the income generated at that particular place of worship, though the 1994 High Court order stipulated that pay should be based on the work schedule — full time or part time — on a par with the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards. Also, the employees were not eligible for promotion to higher grade temples. In many temples, wages got delayed for 2-3 years while a proper salary structure was yet to be finalised in many others, said V.V. Srinivasan, general secretary of the union.
Among the hundreds of temples in Malabar region that faced closure threat were the Nuchiad Bhagavathy temple at Ulikkal and the Muzhappilangad Bhagavathy temple.
Since there were no permanent temple employees in those temples, people were assigned work on a daily basis, he said.
The union said that the government and the Malabar Devaswom Board should take steps to solve the problems faced by the employees for the past 18 years, including timely payment of wages and a corpus fund for temples, especially at a time when funds were being disbursed for renovation of temples across the Malabar region.