GOMBAK - At risk of being delisted as a national heritage site over its newly painted 272-steps, the Batu Caves temple committee now claims that it has never benefitted from being one.
Batu Caves Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam committee chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said the National Heritage Department did not give any grant for maintenance of the site, which is also a tourist spot.
"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," he told reporters after the consecration ceremony here yesterday.
The colourful steps, said Nadarajah, had received mostly positive feedback, adding that only a few criticised the efforts.
The committee, he added, had been inspired by the colourful peacock.
On Aug 29, StarMetro had reported that the temple was at risk of being delisted as a national heritage site due to the renovation and paint job done without approval from the department.
The report also stated that no approval was given by Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) for any job in Batu Caves.
Nadarajah claimed that the MPS had never approved any of the temple's application.
"We spent a lot of money and submitted all the documents and technical reports to legalise the 20 structures and buildings in and around Batu Caves. We are still waiting for its response for years but we have received none so far.
"We built the management office building after MPS failed to give us the approval despite our complete application. The contractor was fined.
"It is not our intention to go ahead with the project without MPS's permission but we are in dire need of the facility.
"Similarly, we have filed the application to build a cultural arts centre which doubles up as a hall with the capacity of 3,000 people. This is our next big project as we have the funds," he said.
Nadarajah said RM6.5mil was spent for the renovation and paint works in conjunction with the congregation ceremony, with half of the money raised from donations.