PALAKKAD: After years of neglect and snub, the Mahakavi Kunchan Memorial Centre at Killikurishimangalam is now facing a closure threat as teaching and non-teaching staff attached to the institution took leave en masse on Monday.
Seven of the ten staff members skipped duty on Monday and applied for medical leave. Reason: They are denied salaries for the last nine months due to fund shortage.
The 300-year-old Kalakkath Bhavan, the house of poet and Ottan thullal maestro Kunchan Nambiar, badly need renovation which also remains a far cry. The memorial house was taken over by the government in 1976. Monsoon rains have been drenching the kitchen and the hall where there is a tiled ‘nadu muttam.’ There are 11 employees, of which one is a daily wage worker, employed as sweeper. A ‘Kalapeetom’ was set up at the centre in 2008 to teach the students thullal, mohiniyattom, carnatic music and mridangam. There are 50 seats in each discipline and currently 195 students are undergoing training. Vice-president of the memorial committee, M Rajesh, says: “The annual grant for the institution is Rs 4 lakh. At least Rs 20 lakh is needed for the smooth functioning of the institution. In the 2012-13 budget, a sum of Rs 20 lakh was earmarked, in the 2013-14 budget Rs 3 lakh was set aside and in the 2015 budget there was no allocation at all. This shows how serious our government is about promoting the traditional art forms and the future of around 200 students.”
He added only two employees were permanent. The remaining employees were being paid a pittance of Rs 7,500 per month and now it was also pending for the last nine months.
“An allowance of Rs 500 per month was being given to the members of the Bhavan to keep the traditional lamp lit all the time. Even this amount is not disbursed now,” said P Rajan, an employee.Thullal students are provided ayurvedic treatment during ‘karkidakkam’ which is likely to be skipped this time.