THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan on Monday expressed displeasure over the performance of the High Court-appointed high-power committee to monitor the Sabarimala Master Plan works. The minister said the works that started in 2007 “have not reached anywhere”.
The minister’s criticism came in his reply to the discussion on demand for grants in the budget in the assembly on Monday. “The government has sanctioned Rs 355 crore so far. The committee could not utilise it properly. Only Rs 147 crore has been spent so far. The committee should improve its performance,” he said.
Speaking to TNIE later, the minister said the committee’s performance was in stark contrast to the purpose behind its formation. “The court took over the monitoring responsibility citing the inefficiency of the government. But every year, budgetary sanctions for the master plan are gettinglapse. This includes last year’s allocation of Rs 28 crore,” he said.
The minister said certain works in the master plan could not be implemented in time because of the delay in getting sanction from the forest department. But this cannot be cited as an excuse for the overall delay. Even after so many years, the committee could not even prepare the layout plan for the whole work.
The committee lacks the initiative, according to the minister. It did not meet for two years citing the pandemic situation. “We are not in for a confrontation. But the government is unsatisfied over the committee’s performance,” Radhakrishnan said.
The government has limitations in intervening in the committee’s functioning, he said. “Still, we will ask about its stand in a meeting planned next month. It would be a comprehensive meeting of all stakeholders involved in the development works at Sabarimala,” he said.
Recently, the government had asked Government Engineering College in Thiruvananthapuram, the agency assigned to finalise the layout plan, to submit the plan within six months.
The high-power committee (HPC) under the chairmanship of Justice S Sirijagan was formed by the High Court for the impleme-ntation of the Sabarimala Master Plan in a time-bound manner. The members include representatives of the TDB, forest department, KSEB, pollution control board and the agency which prepared the master plan.