It’s safe, temple says of Batu Caves renovations

PETALING JAYA: The Batu Caves temple committee has given its assurance that renovation works being carried out at the iconic religious site will not affect the safety of devotees and visitors.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple trustee N Sivakumar told The Star renovations are in full swing to get the place ready for Thaipusam next February and engineers and safety officials have ensured that the ongoing works are safe and have been approved.

Among the “makeover” taking place at the temple are the addition of a fourth flight of staircase, renovations at the temple at the bottom of the hill, as well as a concrete grading next to the staircase.

The Star had reported that the renovations do not have the approval of the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) and that the local council had slapped the temple with a warning notice. It also reported that council president Suliman Abd Rahman was expected to visit the construction site.

Sivakumar dismissed this allegation saying the temple committee had informed MPS of the renovation works far back as 2014.

Commenting on the work being carried out there, he said the fourth staircase at the temple was built in the 1980s when there was a tram car service, but was later discontinued by the Tourism Ministry.

The stairs were then closed down for emergency use only but it has to be reopened in light of the steady increase in the number of visitors during Thaipusam.

“Last year, it (the crowd) was at 1.4 million people. To avoid congestion at the three staircases, the temple committee decided to upgrade the fourth staircase and open it in time for Thaipusam next year,” he said.

Sivakumar also dismissed earlier reports about the environmental dangers due to an artificial waterfall being built next to the staircase, an issue which triggered concerns that such a structure could endanger and weaken the limestone in the cave where the temple is located.

He said the concrete grading is being put up to allow water to flow down from the hilltop, thus preventing landslides.