Experts panel on temple treasure to meet today

via PNS | Thiruvananthapuram published on July 31, 2011

The five-member experts’ committee constituted by the Supreme Court to assess the value of the treasures found in the secret chambers of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram will hold its first meeting on Monday even as devotees are concerned over the shortcomings in the security arrangements at the shrine.

The primary aim of the panel’s meeting is to evolve an action plan on how to go about its task of valuing the gold, precious stones, rare historical coins and other articles found in five of the six secret cellars of the temple. This panel will also hold a joint meeting with the three-man supervisory committee, also formed under the direction of the apex court.

The experts’ panel with CV Ananda Bose, director general of the National Museum, as coordinator, has antiques conservation expert MV Nair, VK Harikumar, executive officer of the temple, Nambi Rajan of the Archeological Survey of India and Reserve Bank representative Vikas Sharma as its other members.

The members of the supervisory committee are Justice MN Krishnan, Uthradam Thirunnal Marthanda Varma, representative of the Travancore royal family, and Kerala Devaswom Secretary K Jayakumar. The meeting, for which Ananda Bose had reached the State capital on Saturday itself, will take [lace at 11.00 am Monday.

A seven-member panel, which had examined five of the six secret chambers at the temple complex as per the apex court’s order, had put the value of the treasure at over Rs 100,000 crore but this pertained only to the material value of the findings. That panel had not taken the archeological and antique value of the articles.

The previous committee had only assessed the number, volume and weight of the articles but the court’s instruction to the new panel is to determine the value scientifically. The court has also ordered the panel to identify the articles with archeological value and recommend ways for their proper conservation.

The entire treasure has to be videographed and photographed. The visual documentation would be done by an agency of the Government. A decision in this regard is also expected to be taken at the meeting of the panel on Monday.

Meanwhile, devotees of Sri Padmanabha are expressing concerns over the inadequacy of the security arrangements the Government has made at the temple complex. “Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had promised world-class security for the temple. But we don’t see it here,” said Thrivikraman Pillai of Kesavadasapuram, a devotee.

Last week, the Kerala Police had cut a sorry figure when reports came out that two of the four metal detectors installed at gates of the temple had not been functioning for the past many months. “This kind of lapses should not occur at the temple at a time when it has become world famous for the amazing treasure it holds,” Pillai said.

Though the Government is claiming that scores of machine gun-wielding police commandos are guarding the temple around the clock, devotees complain that not even a single commando is seen during night-time. Even the personnel of the Rapid Action Force are not seen around after the Pooja hours, they say.

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