• The government last year ordered all departments not to permit any lands belonging to temples.
  • There have been several instances of goernment flouting its own rule and alloting temple lands.
  • Officials of the Endowments Department claim that only those lands that have the potential to generate income for temples are being leased out.

HYDERABAD:  EVEN as a controversy rages over the way it auctioned the Sadavarthi Satram (choultry) lands in Chennai belonging to the Amaralingeswara temple located at Amaravati, the Andhra Pradesh government appears to be violating its own orders with regard to the allocation of endowment lands to various development projects.

The government last year ordered all departments not to permit any lands belonging to temples to be used for other purposes, but it has itself allocated temple lands to various development works, projects and routine public purposes in the past one year.

The order issued in June 2015 clearly stated that no department would be allowed to send proposals for transfer, sale or alienation of devasthanam lands either for any routine public purpose or for the purpose of giving it to a private party. Thereafter the government has proceeded to flout its own decree.

The latest example of this is the allotment of about 10 acres of land belonging to the Sri Seetharama Swamy Temple at Tadigadapa in Krishna district on a lease basis to the L V Prasad Eye Institute for setting up a research centre earlier this month.

Similarly, 1.6 acres of land belonging to the Sri Siddeswara Swamy Temple in Talakona in Chittoor district has been allotted to the AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) on lease. The government also allocated 6.06 acres belonging to the Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple in Gollapudi near Vijayawada to construct a building for the office of the commissioner of endowments.

Officials of the Endowments Department claim that only those lands that have the potential to generate income for temples are being leased out. “Temples are run with the amount obtained through leases. If we did not do that, it will be difficult to keep temple activities going,” a senior official told New Indian Express.

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