Shrine on former KTM land given till Feb 16 to move

The land the Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine sits on is part of the Rail Corridor, which is earmarked for redevelopment.
The land the Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine sits on is part of the Rail Corridor, which is earmarked for redevelopment. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SLA has engaged its reps since 2011; land not zoned for religious use

A Hindu shrine which is illegally occupying land along the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway tracks at Queensway will have to be moved by Feb 16.

Otherwise, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) will take legal action to take possession of the land and any property left on it.

This was listed in an encroachment notice served to the shrine's representatives yesterday during a 45-minute meeting with the SLA. The notice stated that they had to vacate the state land and "remove the shrine, structures and all your movable property" within 28 days.

The Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine, located along the former KTM railway tracks, under a flyover at the intersection of Queensway and Portsdown Avenue, was built by workers of Malaysian train operator KTM at least 20 years ago.

SLA said it had been engaging the shrine's representatives since 2011, after KTM stopped train services there and the land was returned to Singapore, and given them ample notice to relocate.

The land the Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine sits on is part of the Rail Corridor, which is earmarked for redevelopment.
The land the Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran Alayam shrine sits on is part of the Rail Corridor, which is earmarked for redevelopment. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

  • 2011

    SLA has engaged the shrine's representatives since 2011

  • Jan 18

    Deadline to move as issued by SLA advisory on Dec 15

  • Feb 16

    Final deadline before legal action will be taken

 
 

SLA had on Dec 15 issued an advisory to the representatives of the shrine to move it by Jan 18.

The land it sits on is not zoned for religious use and is part of the Rail Corridor, which is earmarked for redevelopment, an SLA spokesman said. The shrine also poses public health and safety issues as some devotees cook over open fires.

After being given the notice yesterday, civil servant Adaikalam Annadhurai, 64, the shrine's treasurer, told The Straits Times they will submit another appeal to the authorities today, asking for an extension to find a new location, hold prayers and relocate the shrine.

A 48-day prayer is scheduled to start today to prepare for the move of the deity, Sri Thandavaalam Muneeswaran. "We are willing to move, but 28 days is too short," said Mr Annadhurai.

The shrine's management has been aware that the occupation of the land is illegal.

In last month's advisory, SLA said it had also worked with agencies to source for alternatives, including co-location at other temples. But these were rejected by the shrine's management committee, headed by provision shop owner Thirunaukarasu Adaikalam and comprising about 20 members.

Mr Annadhurai said it is not easy to merge with other temples as the devotees would not be able to conduct their own rituals.

The most recent appeal was to Tanjong Pagar GRC MP and Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah on Jan 9, when shrine representatives asked for a three-month extension from SLA. However, the authority responded, saying it is "unable to accede to the appeal".

Noting that the shrine's management has shortlisted a few possible locations in Bukit Merah, Mr Annadhurai said: "If we need to move, we will move. We just need more time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Shrine on former KTM land given till Feb 16 to move'. Print Edition | Subscribe