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VIJAYAWADA: Here is a good news for the priests and other staff working with the Endowment Department. The state government has taken a decision to enhance the retirement age of priests to 65 years and that of the administrative staff working in temples to 60 years from the present 58.

Speaking to reporters after holding a review meeting with officials at the Interim Government Complex in Velagapudi on Friday, Endowment Minister P Manikyala Rao said that an order to this effect would be released soon.

He said the retirement age of priests and other staff working in sanctum sanctorums would be increased to 65 years and that of the remaining administrative staff would be increased to 60 years from the existing 58.

He said the department would adopt energy conservation methods by using solar power, solar heaters and LED bulbs.

In view of the controversies surrounding the Endowment Department lands, the minister said it would organise Lok Adalats in every district in which the Joint Collector and Endowment Department commissioners of the respective districts would go through the disputes and take a decision.

He said skill development courses would be introduced in the schools and Vedic schools administered by the endowment department from June.

Stating that all arrangements were made for the smooth conduct of Maha Sivaratri, the minister said officials have already been instructed to take measures to provide hassle-free darshan for all the devotees. As a large number of devotees are from Karnataka coming to Srisailam through the forest route, the department would arrange lighting system, bio toilets, drinking water facilities and medical emergency teams on the route.