The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) to clean the water tanks of the famed Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple and take measures to stop sewage and construction debris from flowing inside the temple premises. A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul ordered the authority to complete their work by May 15.
The court asked amicus curiae and senior advocate Gopal Subramanium to keep tabs on the timely completion of the cleaning work and report fortnightly to the Supreme Court on the progress made. The government has fixed an estimate of Rs. 28 lakh for the cleaning work.
The court said speed is of the essential and that was the exact reason why it wanted a government body itself to do the work instead of inviting tenders from outside. The court had the oncoming monsoon in mind when it decided on a tight deadline for finishing the cleaning project.
Mr. Subramanium had submitted that the temple tanks were filled with filth and the priests were finding it increasingly hard to take a dip before participating in the temple rituals. “How can the priests bathe in such water… this is injustice,” Mr. Subramanium said.
At one point during the hearing, the amicus submitted that money would “pour in” from devotees all over the world once the Supreme Court gives a directive to clean up the tanks.
The court further ordered the temple’s administrative committee to issue notices within a week to invite expressions of interest from experts who can restore the Padmanabhaswamy temple deity made of Katu Sarkara Yogam , the structure of the roof of the sanctum sanctorum and the temple tanks.
The court said the committee should invite the offers for the three works separately, although the three works could be granted to a single person.
In a short submission, the Kerala government said that reparations and management of the temple property and premises should be brought under a legislative framework similar to the Guruvayoor Devaswom Act of 1978, governing the upkeep of yet another famous temple, Sri Krishna Temple, Guruvayoor.
As far as the cleaning of the temple tanks, the government stepped in to say that it was ready to do the work as a one-time measure.