Thiruvananthapuram, August 1, 2011
A meeting of an expert committee set up by the Supreme Court to evaluate the valuables kept in the vaults of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple began here today.
The meeting is expected to evolve an action plan for evaluation of valuable assets unofficially estimated at Rs 1 lakh crore.
The new-five member committee will again asses the value of the treasure inside the vaults.
The Supreme Court-appointed committee with National Museum Institute Vice-Chancellor C V Anandabose as coordinator will decide the modalities to be followed to assess the treasure.
Archaeological Conservation head of the National Museum Institute M V Nair, Temple Executive Officer V K Harikumar and one official each from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are the other members of the committee.
The apex court has also nominated a three-member committee comprising justice M N Krishnan, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (head of the Travancore royal family) and Devaswom Secretary K Jayakumar for monitoring the preparation of the inventory.
Mr Krishnan and Mr Jayakumar were part of the earlier seven-member committee appointed by the Court to carry out an inventory.
The Supreme Court, in its verdict on July 21, had directed the new committee to prepare a scientific assessment of the wealth in the vaults. Videography and photography of the treasure should also be done, it said.
According to sources, it is only after today's committee meeting that any further clarification in this regard will be made. It was on June 27 that the preparation of the inventory had begun.
The meeting will also review work already been done by the earlier seven-member committee which had opened inner chambers and inventoried the precious articles of great intrinsic and heritage value locked up in the underground vaults.
The B vault is yet to be opened. After receiving a report from the Committee, the Supreme Court will take a decision on whether to open or not the vault B.
Meanwhile, officials of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) today ruled out the possibility of an electrical short circuit for a major fire that broke out at a handicraft stall within the high security area near Padmanabhaswamy temple here last night.
Sources said the KSEB officials who inspected the spot this morning said there was no electric connection in the stall. The incident occurred at 2000 hrs yesterday. However, no casualties were reported in the fire, police said.
The incident occurred near Theerthapada Mandapam in East Fort which is about 200 metre away from the main gate of the temple.
Fire forces rushed to the spot and doused the fire. However, the rescue operation was disrupted due to power failure in the area at least three times.
Police said the fire broke out in a shed which had remained closed for the last few months. However, it was also reported that explosion of a generator caused the fire.
Meanwhile, Devaswom Minister V S Shivakumar visited the spot where Shiv Sena workers tried to block him last night, creating tension in the area.
They alleged that the Government had failed to provide foolproof security to the temple and nearby areas.
However, local people told UNI that there was a long-lasting dispute between the people associated with the stall and the Theerthapada Mandapam.