SINGAPORE: A Hindu shrine located at the intersection of Queensway and Portsdown Avenue will have to move by Jan 18 next year, as it sits on state land that is not zoned for religious use.
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) issued an advisory to key members of the Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine on Thursday (Dec 15), reminding them that the land is part of the Rail Corridor that is earmarked for future development.
The land originally belonged to the Malaysian government, and was used to house workers from railway operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM). It was returned to the Singapore Government on Jul 1, 2011, after train services were stopped.
Since then, SLA has been in touch with the managers of the shrine, giving them notice to relocate. The authorities have also helped to find alternative locations to house the shrine and its deities. The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) and Hindu Advisory Board (HAB) had also been roped in to help.
One Hindu temple had offered to house the shrine and retain the deity's name but the shrine's representatives said this was not possible due to differences in the observance of rituals, Channel NewsAsia understands.
A copy of the advisory sent to the shrine's key members. (Photo: Adaikalam Annadhurai)
SLA's advisory pointed out that there are also public health and safety issues "due to the presence of damaged asbestos in the adjoining property, temporary nature of the structure, and cooking over open fire using gas cylinder".
For these reasons, authorities have had to turn down various appeals by the shrine's representatives and devotees to retain the shrine. In October this year, there was even an appeal posted on Facebook by the shrine's representatives, asking members of public to sign a petition to urge authorities to provide an alternative site for the shrine.
Channel NewsAsia understands that SLA has looked into a request to relocate the shrine to another site nearby, but this could not be done as the Railway Corridor will be developed in the longer term.
Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine, located next to the former KTM tracks. (Photo: Winnie Goh)
The shrine, which is located adjacent to Blocks 20, 21 and 22 at Queen's Close, has been around for decades.
According to Mr Adaikalam Annadhurai, the shrine's treasurer, members are still holding out hope for a piece of land close to the shrine's current location, despite the advisory.
"We (will) ask for another position. If they can give us a smaller piece of land, it will be good enough," he said, adding that it would be ideal if the new piece of land was next to Mosque Hang Jebat, which is adjacent to the shrine.
In response to questions on why it is important for the shrine to remain or be near the tracks, Mr Annadhurai said it was originally erected by railway workers and the shrine has been here for nearly 60 years.
Mr Annadhurai, 64, also said the shrine's representatives will continue to appeal to higher authorities. While they were previously in touch with Member of Parliament Indranee Rajah, Mr Annadhurai said he hopes the petition will be able to reach the Prime Minister.
"So many devotees are coming in. This temple gives them a sense of belonging," he said.
If no action is taken by the Jan 18 deadline, authorities could consider further action, which may include applying for a court order.