Committee explains decision behind plans

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WEEKS after StarMetro published the exclusive report on the redevelopment plans of the century-old Vivekananda Ashram, the Vivekananda Ashrama Kuala Lumpur (TVAKL) management committee has finally broken their silence over the issue that came under heavy scrutiny.

In their statement to the press, the committee said the ashram was registered as a private company and the land was acquired more than 80 years ago. With regard to the development plans, the statement said the committee remained cognisant of the commercial value of the land in the area.

“The development project has been approved by the committee and the members of TVAKL and in the application for development, we have accordingly submitted plans for the retention of the existing ashram building,” said the committee.

The statement also said that in furthering TVAKL’s mission, it had been determined that the management committee should pursue a solution that maximised the value of the land and opt for a balanced development plan while retaining the ashram building. It also spelt out four points to that effect:

l The Ashrama building will not be demolished as it is a building worth preserving. The Swami Vivekananda statue will also be retained.

l TVAKL will be provided with a long-term and sustainable solution to fund the schools’ educational, cultural, spiritual and youth development activities.

l The amenities to be added on as part of the new development will enable TVAKL to better serve the needs of future generations.

l TVAKL will have a separate title to the Ashrama building to protect its ownership. The terms of the development is such that the developer will be allowed to build in certain sections within the property and take measures to protect the structure of the Ashrama.

“The proposal to develop the ashram property was conducted via a tender exercise, which received submissions from developers. These submissions were reviewed by an advisory committee that was chaired by a senior independent advisor who has vast experience in property development,” the statement said.

The ashram and the four schools — three primary and one secondary school serving about 3,000 children in both Tamil and Malay medium education — managed by TVAKL represent the core of the institution’s work.

The schools have received assistance from the Government for infrastructure. A significant number of children in the schools come from economically and socially challenged environments. Therefore, TVAKL has to regularly raise funds to meet the schools’ financial needs including costs associated with extra tuition, bus fares, meals, books, uniforms, computer labs, scholarships, teacher training courses and music classes. The scope of these activities will depend on the funds available.

“The current learning environment has changed so dramatically that it is imperative that the children are trained with skills required to compete in the modern world.

“TVAKL is looking at the future development of the four schools under its purview. It is evident that the need to constantly raise funds on an ad hoc basis does not offer a sustainable solution or allow for long-term planning.

“This is why TVAKL needs a plan that will ensure the long-term sustainability of its objectives in education and youth development,” the statement added.

Related Story:

Lawyer clarifies ashram land granted for public and charitable purpose only

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