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Bengaluru: The state government has now decided to extend reservation privileges in rewarding of temple contracts as well. A government order issued on Thursday stated that 20% of the contracts would be allotted to scheduled castes (SCs), while 5% has been earmarked for scheduled tribes (STs). The policy will initially be implemented at eight muzrai department temples that have been identified by the state government, where commercial space and open plots will be awarded in accordance with the newly drafted rules. “Standing instructions to give priority to SCs/STs in temple contracts have been disregarded for the past eight years. Six months ago, the Congress revived the issue and announced its intention to extend reservation in temple contracts. An official order to this effect is now out and, to start with, prominent temples in Bengaluru have been identified to roll out the scheme,” a senior IAS officer said.

According to the government, the move is aimed at empowering dalits and turning them into entrepreneurs. There are 34,453 temples under the purview of the muzrai department, which are classified into three categories on the basis of their annual revenue – 160 temples under ‘A’ Category (annual revenue of more than Rs 25 lakh), 154 temples under ‘B’ category (Rs 5-25 lakh) and the remaining temples are clubbed under ‘C’ category (annual revenue below Rs 5 lakh). Although the majority of ‘A’ category temples are in Dakhsina Kannada and Udupi districts, Bengaluru too, is home to a few of them.
“Some of these temples in the city, including the famous Banashankari temple, register an attendance of more than 10,000 people per week. There is intense competition to secure commercial spaces, including shoe-stands, since there are several established players controlling the business. Against this backdrop, the government decided to facilitate the entry of SC/ST businessmen in this area,” the officer added.

Politically, the move is bound to boost chief minister Siddaramaiah’s standing in the dalit community, which forms the the state’s largest vote-bank. In the 2013 assembly polls, the CM rode to power on the Ahinda (combination of backward classes, minorities and dalits) plank, and will hope to retain his base in the 2018 elections.

The reservation in temple contracts comes close on the heels of the Siddaramaiah government’s move to allot quotas for SCs and STs in construction contracts. According to the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements (Amendment) Bill – 2016 that was passed in the recently concluded legislature session, the government has extended 17.5% reservation to SCs and 6.95% to STs in the allocation of construction contracts up to Rs 50 lakh. The government had also announced separate burial grounds for SCs and STs in rural areas.

New policy to be implemented at these eight Bengaluru temples:

  • Sri Banashankari Temple, Kariyappa Road, Banashankari
  • Sri Prasanna Veeranjenayaswamy Temple, Mahalakshmipuram
  • Sri Prasanna Venkateshwara Temple, Fort area
  • Sri Kumaraswamy and adjacent temples, Hanumanthanagar
  • Sri Gavigangadeshwara Temple, Gavipuram Guttahalli
  • Sri Doddaganapathi and Sri Mallikarjunaswamy Temple, Basavanagudi
  • Sri Karanji Anjaneyaswamy Temple, Basavanagudi
  • Sri Anjaneyaswamy Temple, Yelahanka Gate