Thiruvananthapuram: Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran has countered the BJP claim that Union Petroleum Ministry had provided funds for constructing Sabarimala halting place (edathavalam) at Chenganur. In a Facebook post, the minister said the edathavalam at Sree Mahadeva Temple premises at Chengannur was one of the projects envisaged by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The minister was reacting to BJP's Facebook post claiming that petroleum ministry had sanctioned Rs 10-crore for halting place at Chengannur Mahadeva temple.
He said the state government had directly and with the cooperation of Kerala regional offices of central PSUs like IOC, BPCL, joined hands for constructing the halting places on 36 temple premises. As part of it, agreement was signed for 10 halting places between Devaswom Boards and IOC officials in the presence of chief minister. As per state government’s decision, Travancore Devaswom Board and BPCL signed an agreement for constructing halting place at Chengannur at a cost of Rs 9.5 core for Sabarimala pilgrims. In return of the construction of halting place, the state government would be giving land to BPCL on lease for 30 years for setting up petrol and diesel pumps.
The state government had issued a GO in connection with halting place on March 23. “In my capacity as Devaswom Board minister, I will be laying the foundation stone for the edathavalam at Sree Mahadeva Temple premises in Chenganuur on March 27,” the minister said. Kadkampally said through this project the government was fulfilling the dream of former Chengannur MLA late K K Ramachandran Nair . Meanwhile, BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan reacted sharply to Kadakampally's Facebook post. Kummanam said devaswom minister's words were misleading as it is the Central government which is incurring the expenses towards having the halting places at Chengannur.
He sought to know as to who was responsible in getting Indian Oil Corporation Kerala retail head Naveen Charan to sign an agreement with Travancore Devaswom Board for the construction of halting places. "As per the written agreement, the expenses towards having the halting places are borne by the IOC. They are meeting the expenses as neither the state government nor the TDB have the money", said Kummanam. He said Kadakampally should admit that the halting places at Chengannur are coming up with the help of the Central Government....