VISAKHAPATNAM: The contentious issue of ‘Pancha Gramalu’ lands has been hanging fire for the last 25 years. All the previous attempts have failed to break the ice. The previous TDP government had issued a GO on regularisation of the lands, but it was caught in a legal battle. After YSRC government came to power, it constituted a high-power committee headed by the Endowments Minister to solve the issue. Later, the government expanded the committee by including MPs Vijayasai Reddy and B Satyavati.
The committee, which could not meet due to Covid since then, finally met on Saturday, giving hope of finding an amicable solution to the long-pending issue. In the first meeting, the committee proposed to give 560 acres of land in the first phase to the Simhachalam Devasthanam as an alternative for facilitating regularisation of temple lands, which are under occupation in the five villages surrounding the temple.
Over 25,000 people have been staying in the ‘Pancha Gramalu’ stretch — Purushothapuram, Vepagunta, Adavivaram, Gopalapatnam and Cheemalapalli villages — belonging to the Simhachalam Devasthanam. They did not face any problem from 1976 to 1996. However, in 1996, the then Pendurthi and Visakha rural tehsildars issued ryotwari pattas for 12,000 acres stating that the land belonged to Sri Varalakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam at Simhachalam.
However, when some people approached the High Court, they got relief. In 2003, some people regularised their lands when the then Chandrababu government gave them an opportunity to regularise their lands by paying 70 per cent of 1998 rate. However, the Rajasekhara Reddy government revoked the GO 578, citing discrepancies in it. After that, the State government constituted a committee. However, the committee did not submit its report till the 2009 elections. Though the Congress returned to power, Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash. The land issue was back to square one, once again.
The TDP, which came to power in 2014, promised to find a solution to the Pancha Gramalu issue in 100 days, at its first Cabinet meeting. However, it did not take any decision till it issued a GO 229 in 2019, just before the elections. However, the GO was challenged in court and later Assembly elections were held. The YSRC government, which came to power in 2019, constituted a high-level committee to solve the issue.
Solution soon: Minister
The committee, which met on Saturday, said the Simhachalam Devasthanam will earn a revenue of `500 crore through regularisation of its lands. Minister for Tourism Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao said the issue was pending in the High Court. The committee wants to regularise 12,149 houses in the first phase. For regularising the land, the government will give 560 acres in Anakapalle and Anandapuram mandals to the Devasthanam, so that both the temple and people will benefit, the minister said and expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved sooner than later.
However, senior TDP leader Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy said the committee formed by the YSRC government will further delay the issue. He said the GO 229 issued by the TDP government should be implemented for the benefit of people of ‘Pancha Gramalu.’
Hanging fire for 25 years
‘Pancha Gramalu’ are Purushothapuram, Vepagunta, Adavivaram, Gopalapatnam and Cheemalapalli villages where 25,000 people have been staying for over 25 years.
In 1996, then Pendurthi and Visakha rural tehsildars issued ryotwari pattas for 12,000 acres stating that the land belonged to Sri Varalakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam at Simhachalam
When some people went to the High Court, they got relief. The issue is pending in the HC
The committee wants to regularise 12,149 houses in the first phase
For regularising the houses, the govt will give 560 acres of land in Anakapalle and Anandapuram mandals to the Devasthanam