Archakas threaten stir over demands
source: The Hindu, Jun 09, 2003
HYDERABAD June 8. The Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakhya has threatened to agitate on its twin demands of opposing sale of endowments lands and recasting of the Endowments Act which its president, M.V.Soundara Rajan, feels has "totally'' failed to deliver.
Without elaborating what the Samakhya proposes to do during the agitation, he told The Hindu that it would only be a "dharmik'' agitation. He said there were only 80,000 acres of the endowments land under the hold of archakas, whereas 2.7 lakh acres were under occupation by various sections of people, mostly the influential.
Explaining the Samakhya's opposition to the sale of land, he said the Samakhya would not object to raising the tenancy rates. What it is opposed to is the department's plan to take back the land under the control of the archakas and offer them payscales. "The retired professor of Osmania University charged the Endowments Department with failing to implement its promise of extending payscales to the archakas. Why can't it offer the payscales? "This is because the department's expenditure is more than its income.'' He cited the example of a class "A'' temple with an annual income of Rs.30 lakhs, but is unable to pay its archakas for the last 18 months. Similar is the case of a temple in Telangana, which has an income of Rs.2.5 crores, but the archakas there lack payscales.
Prof. Soundara Rajan pointed to the peculiar case of 13 temples under the control of the Regional Joint Commissioner of Endowments. "Except one, all have overdrafts. The maintenance charges incurred for eight to nine clerks has rendered these temples white elephants.''
He alleged that income from the sale of tickets to enter temples and "hundi'' collections were being misappropriated by the staff. For every 100 tickets sold, accounts for only 20 tickets are shown.
In case of "hundi'' collections, there is an unwritten understanding between the archakas and the temple staff, he charged, citing a recent case of an Anjaneya temple where only Rs.12,000 was sent for audit out of the collection of Rs.35,000.
What is the Samakhya's suggestion to improve the temple set-up in the State? He emphasised that there should be a new Endowments Act and more people should go to temples and forcibly prevent their "commercialisation'' by the department itself!