We do not need national heritage status, says Batu Caves temple committee

Batu Caves

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 1): The Batu Caves temple committee today announced that the tourist attraction which is also a place of worship for Hindus does not need its status as a national heritage.

In a report by The Star today, Batu Caves Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam committee chairman Tan Sri R Nadarajah said the National Heritage Department had never given any grant for maintenance of the site anyway.

The statement by the temple committee came about as a reaction to reports that the multimillion ringgit painting and renovation works at Batu Caves were not sanctioned by the National Heritage Department (JWN).

Much publicised was the freshly painted historical 272-steps (pictured) that now look like a rainbow staircase. 

The Star reported on Aug 29 that activist and Sentosa assemblyman G. Gunaraj said that JWN conservators were displeased as Section 40 of the National Heritage Act 2005 required the temple to seek approval prior to any renovation.

“I was told that in accordance with the Act’s Section 40 requirements, the temple management must refer to the department to identify best conservation methods when there is any development or renovation work done in close proximity to a national heritage site.

“This is to ensure the integrity and legacy of the heritage structure is maintained,’’ Gunaraj said.

As a result, Batu Caves run the risk of being delisted as a national heritage.

“The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has deemed Batu Caves unfit for their heritage list. We do not need the heritage status.

“If the department can maintain the area, we do not need to paint it. It is ridiculous for us to seek the department’s permission to paint the steps.

“We paint the steps every year. We clean and beautify the area to attract tourists,” The Star reported Nadarajah telling the media after the consecration ceremony in Batu Caves yesterday.

The colourful steps had received mostly positive feedback and only a few criticised the efforts, added Nadarajah.