CHENNAI: Within a year of assuming power, the AIADMK government has retrieved temple land worth Rs 300 crore, which had been encroached upon, and returned the land to the respective temples. This has been possible only because of the serious efforts taken by the government.
As many as 169.14 acres of land, 17 grounds and 474 sq ft of plots and buildings in an area of 29,133 sq ft have been retrieved from encroachment.
In the heart of Chennai, five grounds and 1,073 sq ft of land worth `25 crore located in Raja Annamalaipuram, belonging to the Sri Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore has been retrieved. Similarly, 16.48 acres of land belonging to the Vinayakar temple in Kottapatti village in Omalur taluk in Salem district has also been retrieved from encroachers.
In yet another incident, 49.46 acres of land belonging to the Kandasamy temple in Chengleput taluk at Thiruporur and Edayankuppam was retrieved from encroachers on May 2.
When Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa came to know that 4.78 lakh acres of land owned by temples were under the control of the HR and CE Department but their full details were not available with the department, she ordered that a database be created for the land of 2,000 temples which have large assets.
During the just-concluded Assembly budget session, HR and CE Minister MSM Anandan introduced a Bill in the State Assembly which brings the samadhis and brindhavans under the department.
The Bill said samadhis and brindhavans established in memory of a famous guru, sadhu or saint were worshipped as places of public religious worship and that these places have acquired the status of religious institutions owning vast properties besides attracting large number of worshippers.
Barring a few, most of the samadhis and brindhavans are not covered under any law. Therefore, for effective supervision, the government has decided to include samadhis, brindhavans and other institutions under the definition of the term ‘religious institution’ as per the HR and CE Endowments Act.