Green signal for Sree Narayana Guru Spiritual Circuit, as India govt reverses controversial decision to drop the project

Exactly a month ago, the Indian government had shelved the Sree Narayana Guru Spiritual Circuit project, in a major reversal for Kerala. No reason was provided for such a step at that time.

Kerala could not accept this move and decided to pursue the matter with the Central government. Finally, on Monday, the Centre decided to retain the spiritual circuit, drawing curtains on a controversy which had the potential to snowball into a larger political crisis.

But there is still a hitch. While the Centre has informed that the Rs 69.47-crore Sree Narayana Guru spiritual circuit project would be retained under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, it has not mentioned anything about the comprehensive spiritual circuit project linking 133 places of worship in the state, across its 14 districts.

These two projects had received the Centre’s approval as part of the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits. The state government has written to the Centre asking to retain both the projects which were earlier approved under the Swadesh Darshan scheme launched by the Tourism Ministry.

“The Ministry of Tourism has considered the revival of the Sivagiri Sree Narayana Guru Ashram-Aruvipuram-Kunnumpara Sree Subrahmania-Chembazhanthi Sree Narayana Gurukulam spiritual circuit,” Rajesh Kumar Sahu, Deputy Secretary, Swadesh Darshan Division said, in a communication addressed to Rani George, Kerala’s tourism secretary.

Welcoming the decision, Kerala’s tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said the pressure exerted by the government, joint agitations, and the united stand taken by all concerned had yielded results.

“The decision of the Ministry to hand over the execution of the project to the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) should be reversed,” Surendran said. Kerala Tourism should be entrusted with the execution of the project, he added. He has also urged the Tourism Ministry to revive the spiritual circuit linking 133 places of worship in the state.

The move to revive the Sree Narayana Guru spiritual circuit follows protests from various quarters. Besides the ruling LDF and the Opposition UDF, the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham and those involved in promoting the ideals of the Guru had demanded that the Centre reconsider the decision.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Central Government’s decision to retain the dropped project marked the success of the people in the state, who protested against the move vehemently. Meanwhile, the BJP state unit welcomed the Centre’s decision to revive the Sivagiri pilgrimage tourism circuit project which the party alleged became a non-starter due to inaction of the state government.