Hyderabad: Land belonging to temples has become a soft target for encroachers, with a preliminary inquiry by endowments department showing that over 14,500 acres had been encroached upon.

The inquiry revealed that largescale encroachments took place in the last 15 years due to the sharp rise in land prices. Lack of coordination between endowments, revenue and stamps and registration departments made the encroachers’ job easy.

Neither the revenue nor the endowments department has proper land records of temple land. Taking advantage of this, encroachers bribed officials to encroach land and got them registered to their names.

It was found that Nalgonda, with 3,225 acres of temple land encroached, topped the list in the state. Hyderabad follows with 2,000 acres and Ranga Reddy district stood third with 1,800 acres encroached.

In one of the biggest cases, the survey found that 400 acres of temple land were grabbed in Devara Yamjal village in Hakimpet.

“The state governments in undivided AP totally neglected temple lands. There is no clarity on how much land temples own in the state. This gives scope for encroachers to grab these lands easily. Even the existing records are erroneous. Unless these records are rectified immediately, it is not possible to check encroachments,” said Mr A. Indrakaran Reddy, minister for endowments.

He said the government was in the process of collecting temple-wise land records. “These records will be updated with details such as pahani, survey, muntakhab numbers and sent to the stamps and registration department. The details of these land parcels will be kept online in the banned registration category so that no one can register the land in their name in future.”

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