The Madras High Court has directed the State government to relocate the Mahashakti Mariamman Temple on an alternative site following its removal last year from the ‘Girivalam’ path in Tiruvannamalai on the basis of a direction issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu directed the Tiruvannamalai Collector to assign the temple at the earliest to an alternative site, about 270 metres from the original location, after making entries in revenue records vesting the new property in the name of the temple.
He also directed the HR & CE officials to submit a building plan for the temple to the Collector within four weeks. On receipt of the plan, the Collector was ordered to commence construction and complete it within six months.
Expenses for constructing the temple should be borne by the State government, the judge ordered. He, however, granted liberty to the Collector to accept donations from devotees for the construction and directed him to obtain the remaining amount from the government.
After the construction, the HR&CE department should install the Shiva Lingam as well as the idol of Nandhi Deva in the new site and perform consecration on an auspicious day.
The judge restrained the district administration from removing the Ramar Paadham and a snake pit at the old site.
The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by C.M. Sivababu, president of Tamil Desiya Makkal Katchi, accusing revenue officials of having removed the idols from the old site without any rhyme or reason.
During the course of the hearing of the case, the HR & CE department also told the court that it was not consulted before the removal.
However, Additional Advocate General A. Kumar, representing the Collector, told the court that the idols were removed following an order passed by the NGT and agreed to provide an alternative location to house them.
Subsequently, the Collector as well as the writ petitioner filed a joint memo in the court agreeing to shift the idols to a new location and the judge disposed of the case after recording the contents of the memo.