VIJAYAWADA: The Endowments department is contemplating taking back the thousands of hectares of lands encroached upon by individuals across the State by organising Lok Adalats.
Even as most of the temples have lands, priests and other caretakers of the respective temples are benefiting by cultivating crops in these lands. Though people offering services in temples have the right to enjoy the benefits from the temple lands, they have no right to claim ownership over the same.
But, in ground reality, the Endowments officials found that 70,000 acres of lands belonging to various temples across the State are under the control of private people, who also succeeded in creating ownership documents.
As per revenue records, lands in an extent of 3.98 lakh acres are under the control of temples across the State. Against this backdrop, special officers conducted a survey in each and every mandal to identify the encroached lands.
“In the name of ‘Inam’ (lands given to persons and families, rewarding their services in temples), the Endowments department allowed them to cultivate crops in the lands of various temples. But, few beneficiaries got pattas under the Estate Abolition Act-1956 and also sold a portion of lands to others. Some others encroached the lands and created pattas to claim ownership over the same. So far, we identified that over 70,000 acres of lands belonging to various temples encroached upon so far and took the same to the notice of government,” one of the endowments official told ‘Express’.
As regards the future steps, Endowments Minister P Manikyala Rao said that Lok Adalats will be organised in every district wherein the Joint Collectors and Endowment Commissioners of the respective districts will be asked to probe into the disputes and take a decision.