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Temple lands not to be disbursed among poor: Minister

By Our Staff Reporter

GUNTUR/AMARAVATHI, JUNE 10. The Minister for Endowments, M. Satyanarayana Rao, on Thursday said that the Endowments Department will not allow temple lands to be disbursed among poor as the Government had enough revenue lands, which could be given to them just as free education.

"Not a single paise from the Endowments Department funds should be used for anything other than creation of facilities for devotees or improving the infrastructure of temples," Mr. Rao told reporters here.

Land belonging to almost all the 33,000 temples in the State were subjected to encroachment by unscrupulous people, which the former Minister, Dandu Sivaramaraju, wanted to bring out of their clutches, but could not do it due to the attitude of the then Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, he alleged.

Asserting that he would get all the temple lands freed of encroachments, the Minister clarified that there was no option for persons who had taken endowment lands on lease to pay the lease money or part with the land. "No concession will be given in this aspect, it is God's money it has to be kept secured," he added.

Criticising the TDP Government for spending too much money on the Godavari Pushkarams last year, he said there was not a single work that was untouched by corruption. "Best example is the Dharmapuri-Kaleswaram Road, which does not exist any more, though it was laid during the Godavari Pushkaram," he remarked.

Expenditure to be cut

The works for the Krishna Pushkaram would be scaled down to a large extent limiting them only to providing essential basic amenities giving very little scope for corruption, he said. From the Rs. 276 crores proposed by the TDP Government it would be need-based for which reviews would be conducted in all the five districts, where devotees were expected to take bath in the river.

Addressing public and partymen on the premises of the Amaravathi Amareswara Swamy Temple, Mr. Rao said he had instructed all the five district Collectors of Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Kurnool, Krishna and Guntur to prepare proposals for creating basic amenities at the ghats, providing transport facility, shelters and proper sanitation clubbed with medical aid. Once the proposals were finalised, they would be discussed in the presence of the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, at the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted for the purpose. The Finance Minister, the Agriculture, the Panchayat Raj, and the Municipal Administration Ministers would discuss and prepare the final plan within a week, he added.

Supply of hygienic food and clean drinking water free-of-cost to the poor was being worked out by involving Non-Governmental Organisations, he said and added that the Arya Vysya Samaj had offered to supply 25,000 food and water packets to devotees at Amaravathi everyday for 12 days till September 8. The District Collector, K. Ramakrishna Rao, gave a call to the district officials concerned to hasten the pushkaram works and complete it within two months so that facilities were ready before the commencement of the arrival of devotees.

All the temples close to the Krishna river would be renovated, but those situated away from the bank would be taken up later in normal course, he said.

In Guntur district 18 temples were demolished during the TDP regime and now due to curtailment of funds the fate of those temples was hanging in balance. The Minister assured the temple EOs to get them reconstructed. Several MLAs from the district and the Superintendent of Police, Ravi Shankar Ayyannar, were also.

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