Andhra Pradesh: Temple lands left to fate
source: Eenadu, May 2, 2007
Endowments department which does not care about protecting temple lands. They did not create separate cells even 7 months after GO was issued.
"Revenue department which has hundreds of staff is not able to protect encroachment of temple lands. How can Endowments department with fewer staff protect the temple lands?" This was the argument put forward by Endowments department till a few days ago.
They do not have an answer when questioned about the order to setup separate cells for protection of temple lands. The orders are safe and clear on papers. Only temple lands are not safe.
Hyderabad - newstoday
According to the official survey held in 2003, temple lands account for 3.76 lakh acres. Of these 1.5 lakh acres are encroached. 1400 cases have been registered against encroachers throughout the state. Most of these cases are against poor people. These cases pertain to few tracts of land officials have identified while no cases exist against encroachers of vast segments. Considering the situation serious, the Government passed a GO on September 26, 2006 to set up separate cells to deal with encroachments and fast settlement of cases.
Government ordered that these cells be setup in Hyderabad, Tirupati and Kakinada. According to the GO the cell for protection of temple lands should consist of one special grade deputy collector, Tehsildar, deputy Tehsildar, three revenue inspectors and two surveyors. For the legal cell a retired lawyer as legal officer on contract basis and two people who worked in district courts as assistants are supposed to be appointed. Similarly two people from Law Department as superintendents, four computer operators and two stenographers were supposed to be appointed. Even 7 after the GO is issued the officials seem to be indifferent and separate cells are not set up.
On the other side temple lands worth crores are falling into encroachers hands. The officials who who have been giving lame excuses such as staff shortage are not acting even after the GO was issued to setup separate cells. Under these circumstances recovering encroached land seems to be a big task but the much bigger task is protecting the non encroached land.