The government and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) appeared to be headed for a fresh confrontation on Wednesday with Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran questioning the board’s reported request to the Central government to provide forestland for the construction of a new temple at Ponnambalamedu, near Sabarimala.

A press note quoting the Minister said the board had overstepped its limits by asking for forestland from the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Citing media reports, he said the TDB president had no right to construct a temple at Ponnambalamedu, considered to be the sacred grove of the deity at Sabarimala.

Mr. Surendran said the Pandalam royal family had condemned the move by the TDB. “They feel that the proposed project would rob the Sabarimala temple of its significance and sanctity,” he said.

“Under the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Act, 1950, TDB’s only mandate is to ensure that the existing rituals are fulfilled. Who authorised the board to seek forestland for the construction of a temple without consulting the State government? How can the board president, a political nominee, take such an arbitrary decision,” he asked.

Last year, the government and TDB had locked horns over the latter’s move to rename the Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha temple as Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Swamy temple.