BHAWANIPATNA: FOR the land grabbers, the immovable properties of deities are easy target. Fifteen temples of Kalahandi Group of Temples, managed by Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment, bear testimony to years of neglect and becoming victims of encroachment. Now there is an attempt by the group to recover the immovable properties of deities and renovate the temples, which need attention. This has raised new hope.
The group plans to renovate Ramswami temple, Balaji temple, Dakhina Kali, Bhawanishankar, Jagannath, Madanmohan, Tarini in Bhawanipatna, Lankeswari, Gopinath Jew, Kanak Durga, Someswar, Ramswami and Balaji temples in Junagarh and Manikeswari, Rameswar and Nilakantheswar temples in Thuamul Rampur.
Most of these temples were constructed during the 19th Century by the then kings of Kalahandi. Even after the merger of the princely states in Odisha, these temples were managed by the royal family. In the seventies, the former King handed over these temples to the Government along with 1,500 acres of land and valuables of the deities for the management and maintenance of the temples and also for performance of rituals. Despite having the potential of adequate returns, the situation remained grim.
According to the record of the Group of Temples, a large chunk of valuable agricultural land of the deities located in different villages under Bhawanipatna and Dharamgarh sub-divisions remained under the occupation of the encroachers. Besides, the encroachers are eyeing the land of the deities in prime locations of Bhawanipatna and Junagarh and these valuable lands are being systematically grabbed by people for construction of houses and for also business purposes.
In Bhawanipatna, out of 34 acres of Balaji temple land, more than 10 acres are under the illegal occupation of locals where both huts and buildings have been constructed. The rest of the areas are also under threat. Most of the lands of Kali temple, located in the heart of the town, are under also illegal occupation. The land of Ramswami temple is also not spared from land grabbers.
Earlier, the Executive Officer of Kalahandi Group of Temples was the Tehsildar of Bhawanipatna. However, to put the system in order, the Bhawanipatna Sub-Collector was made the Executive Officer of the temples for the last two years.
Now, for the last one year, a campaign has been launched by the management of the Group of Temples to recover the grabbed lands by initiating an eviction process and increase the revenue. There are also plans to renovate these structures, many of which are in dilapidated condition, and create assets, said PD DRDA Sukanta Tripathy, who was in-charge of Executive Officer of the temples.
Meanwhile, the administration has initiated 665 encroachment cases and recovered 231 acres of agricultural land from the encroachers. New Sub-Collector and Executive Officer of the Group of Temples Surya Narayan Dash has geared up the process.
Tripathy said steps have been taken to generate funds for the temples while the fixed deposit has gone up from `35 lakh to `59 lakh.