New Delhi, Nov 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the strengthening of a vault in Kerala's Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple as part of an exercise to secure its five vaults which stock treasures estimated to be worth Rs.1 lakh crore ($22 billion).
The strengthening of Vault A would cost around Rs.81 lakh, noted the apex court bench of Justice R.M.Lodha and Justice A.K. Patnaik.
The judges said two-thirds of the cost of strengthening Vault A would be borne by the Kerala government and the remaining by the temple management.
The court said the temple's valuables presently kept in Vault A would be transferred to Vault C till the strengthening work for the former was completed.
The judges issued the order in the wake of the amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam's report which said that all the vaults were in a bad shape and required urgent repair and strengthening.
"It is urgent. Things are falling," he said.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the temple management, urged the court to adjourn the matter so that an assessment could be made of the financial implications of Subramaniam's suggestion.
Permitting the strengthening of Vault A, the court modified its April 18 order on the strengthening of Vault C which it had directed on the recommendation of an expert committee headed by the director general of national museum.
The court said the Kerala government and the temple management would give their share of money to the expert committee to carry out the strengthening work of Vault A.
A judge said the recommendations made by the amicus curiae were not major issues. "They are not very major issues. All they require is attention and devotion," Justice Lodha said.
The treasures in the 16th century temple in Thiruvananthapuram were unearthed July last year. Currently, the affairs of the temple are run by an executive committee which includes members of the temple management and representatives of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.