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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Kerala budget allots over Rs 700 crore for Sabarimala after protests hit revenue

Kerala’s Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government on Thursday earmarked Rs 739 crore for the development of Sabarimala temple that has seen widespread protests.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2019 19:07 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
Devotees and members of Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) participate in a march 'Walk for Ayyappa' in relation to violence faced by devotees at Sabarimala's Ayyappa temple in Kolkata.
Devotees and members of Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) participate in a march 'Walk for Ayyappa' in relation to violence faced by devotees at Sabarimala's Ayyappa temple in Kolkata. (PTI)
         

Kerala’s Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government on Thursday earmarked Rs 739 crore for the development of Sabarimala temple that has seen widespread protests since last September’s Supreme Court verdict allowing women of child-bearing age to worship at the hilltop shrine.

Presenting the state budget, finance minister T M Thomas Isaac said the violence over Sabarimala was the second misfortune to hit Kerala since the unprecedented floods last August.

“The twin tragedies had a major impact on the state’s economy. The government is not taking a single rupee from the revenue of Sabarimala temple but we are committed to improving facilities at the shrine,” he said.

Violent protests after the September 28 verdict had hit the footfall and revenue of Sabarimala temple. The Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the temple, said revenue dipped by Rs 95.65 crore this season (early November to mid January) and footfall by 30%. While last season’s revenue was Rs 255 crore, this time it was Rs 159.35 crore.

Saying that the primary concern was to put the state back on rails, the minister proposed 25 new projects. He slapped a 1% flood cess on items that come under the 12%, 18% and 28% GST slabs. He said the government would promote electric vehicles in a big way by cutting tax on them by 50% and announced a subsidy for electric auto-rickshaws.

Transgenders would be included in Kerala Women Development Corporation schemes, set up to provide social and economic opportunities for women from marginalized sections, he said.

The Congress termed the budget hollow and directionless. “...The finance minister did not mention how he would find money for the new schemes. In an election year, it is a trick to pull the wool over the eyes of the people,” said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.