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Wednesday January 19, 2011

Devotees thronging Batu Caves put off by toilet fees

TIRED after fulfilling her vows to Lord Muruga at Batu Caves, A. Jaya, 58, decided to use the toilet to freshen up. Little did she realise she would have to pay 50sen to use the facilities.

Jaya is one of the many devotees who have expressed shock over the rate imposed to use the toilet during Thaipusam.

Thaipusam draws a crowd of 1.3mil devotees and is considered to be a sacred period where devotees offer penance to Lord Muruga. Devotees felt the temple committee is cashing in as much as they can.

“The fee of 50sen is too much. There is no tissue paper and the place is not well maintained. It is understandable to charge 20sen for the level of service provided,” she said.

Upset: Vijayaretnam was shocked to see the rate listed to use the toilet in Batu Caves.

Jaya said people visiting the temple during Thaipusam spend the whole day there and would need to use the toilet several times and the fee was too much.

Devotee Lt-Col (Rtd) V. Ramasamy said the fee for a shower was RM1 and it is high, especially for the poor.

“They come with families and each of them will need to use the toilet and shower. It is not fair to charge such a high rate,” he said.

Ramasamy suggested 50sen be charged on a normal day instead of during a festival.

For Vijayaratnam Subramaniam, 59, the facilities should be given free during the festive period.

“The toilets are clean today but on Thaipusam day the situation may be different. They may not be able to keep it clean so it is best to allow people to use it for free,” he said.

Jaya also believed the temple was making enough money from the stalls and shops and there was no need to impose a high rate to use the toilet to incur more profits.

She also expressed regret the temple was charging RM5 for the Paal Kodam Kavadi (milk pot) at the entrance of the temple before allowing them to go up.

“We are bringing the milk and the kodam (silver pot) why are they charging us to pour the milk over Lord Muruga. There is no archanai (individual prayer) either,” she said.

A check by StarMetro discovered the toilets had a stench and the floor was dirty. Nobody was cleaning it although workers were spotted sitting around collecting money.

However, temple committee chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said it was a small amount to pay for such good facilities.

“The fee is not high and the poor can tell the keepers they cannot afford to pay the amount. They can use my name, I have already informed the caretakers and the temple committee,” he said.

He added there were some devotees who walked away with the shower head and the door knobs, incurring expenses for the temple.

“We just spent about RM30,000 to repair the toilets. We also have many workers who report on shift and they have to be paid as well,” he said.

The toilet near the large Golden Murugan statue has 88 toilets for women and 80 for men, while the facility near the Ramayana Cave has 10 each for men and women.

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