BENGALURU: The elected representatives — especially MLAs and MPs — are more interested in constructing new temples than developing the low revenue-earning old temples under the Muzarai Department. The reason: Donating funds to new temples will earn more popularity than maintaining and developing the old ones — classified as Class C temples. Even the Muzarai Department Minister Rajashekar Basavaraj Patil said that he has noticed a trend of MLAs and MPs choosing to build new temples instead of maintaining the old ones.
In Karnataka, there are 34,559 temples under the department. Of these, 175 temples are Class A (annual revenue `25 lakh), 163 are Class B (annual income between `5 lakh and `25 lakh) and 34,221 are Class C temples (annual income less than `5 lakh). Patil told The New Indian Express: “Class-C temples need maintenance and some of them are in a dilapidated state. The local MLAs and MPs get Local Area Development funds but they are more keen on spending it on the new upcoming temples in their constituency. They say they have pressure from their voters and hence donate to those new temples.”
In the Class C temples, most of the small revenue generated is spent on paying salaries to priests and buying essential items for pooja. With this, the Class C temples are left with no money for development. “As these temples are not that popular and located in remote places, revenue generation is a big challenge. We are not here to make business but, we need funds to develop these temples,’’ a department official said, preferring not to be named.
Another official from the department said the new temples also fetch more popularity for the political leaders. “If they donate funds to new temples, right from foundation stone-laying ceremonies to inaugurations, their names will be inscribed at the temples,’’ he said.Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has called for a meeting with Muzarai Department authorities on June 27. “We are going to bring up the issue of developing C Class temples. We are hoping the CM will allocate funds in his budget,’’ Patil said.
TEMPLES TO BE PRIVATISED?
Unable to maintain the Class C temples, Muzarai Department is likely to hand over a few of them to private organisations or companies for a short period. “This plan is in its initial stages. It is not that temple will be given to private organisations. It will be handed over to them just for a short term, just like roads and lights are maintained,’’ said sources. However, the minister has denied this.