By Sunimalee Dias
Jaffna residents have continued their protest and refused to allow the construction of the State-sponsored hotel scheduled to be built in close proximity to the Nallur Temple. As a result of this, the project has been stalled.
Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka (MBSL) Chairman M.R. Shah speaking with the Daily FT yesterday said that in the wake of a series of discussions with the people of the area held last month, there was a possibility that if they did not agree with the construction of the hotel, it might be relocated.
With the resistance to the project by a certain section of society attached to the renowned Nallur Temple, there are plans to relocate the hotel to an area farthest from the hallowed shrine.
However, Shah explained that they had informed the local residents and civil groups of the importance of establishing such a hotel in the area. “We have spoken to them and said that this is an investment for Jaffna,” he said.
The land belongs to The Finance Company, which is now held under MBSL, and the only cost incurred was that of the purchase of the land.
Shah said it was “not a serious cost for the bank” and believed that with the support of the majority, they might be able to construct the long-awaited hotel.
Construction work on Hotel Nallurw as commenced in April last year by MBSL and it is learnt that work was commenced with no concrete approval from local authorities.
Residents, through a civil society group with the political backing of a Tamil political party, had raised objections over the establishment of this hotel since it was in a sensitive area with strong cultural values and located about one-and-a-half kilometers from the renowned Nallur Kovil.
Over 500 residents of Jaffna demonstrated in protest last year against the construction of the hotel.
This grouping was formed through the Jaffna Civil Society, which protested against this hotel being located on a site of archeological importance, given the proximity to the Nallur Kovil.
This temple is a socially important institution for the Tamils of the Hindu faith in northern Sri Lanka.
Many temples have been built in Europe and North America by Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora using the same name, in remembrance of this sacred kovil.