Governor signs ordinance cutting short TDB term

Thiruvananthapuram: Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam on Tuesday signed the ordinance issued by the State government reducing the tenure of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) from three years to two years.

Earlier, the Governor had sought clarification from the state government on the proposed ordinance. The Governor had sought details of the TDB Act and circumstances that led to the government’s move to reduce the term.

On Monday, Devaswom Minister Kadakompally Surendran called on the Governor and explained the Government’s stand, following which, the Governor signed the ordinance.

TDB manages about 1,248 temples in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, including the famous Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, where the pilgrim season is to begin by this month end.

With the development, TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan and Board member Ajay Tharayi, who have already completed two-year tenure, will be out of the Board.

Reacting to the move by the government, TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan had said the decision was only an act of revenge which would affect the smooth conduct of the three-month long pilgrim season starting on November 15.

The Opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP had also asked the Governor not to sign the ordinance as it was ‘politically motivated’.

Minister Kadakompally Surendran, however, explained to the Governor that this was not the first time that the term of TDB members had been cut short and that there was precedence and no merit in the allegations. He said similar moves were made in the past in 2007 and 2014.

The minister also said that the government had already held several rounds of review meetings to take stock of the facilities for the Mandala-Makaravillakku pooja at Sabarimala. The latest was the conference of Southern ministers held in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday, he said.

Lakhs of pilgrims from across the country and abroad visit the Ayyappa temple during the pilgrim season.

The decision to bring out the ordinance reducing the term of the board was taken on November 9.