MSR vows to save temple lands
source: The Hindu Jun 09, 2004
TIRUPATI, JUNE 8. The Endowments Minister, M. Satyanarayana Rao, has promised steps to manage the temples in the State in a better way. Top on his agenda is the job of saving the endowments lands under encroachment, he said. Mr. Rao, who flew into the temple town on his maiden visit as the Endowments Minister, was given a warm welcome at the Tirupati airport on Tuesday by Congress leaders.
Speaking to mediapersons later, he said that he would focus on liberating endowment lands from the clutches of landgrabbers. He expressed concern that precious pieces of land valued at several crores of rupees donated by kings and philanthropists to run temples in the State had been encroached upon and that the issue would be looked into soon. Fielding questions from scribes on the problems plaguing Tirumala, the major revenue-earning temple for the department, he had only to say, "I know there is something wrong here. But, let me speak to my officials first to get a first hand knowledge before spelling out my plans.''
However, he opined that VIPs should not be given undue preference in darshan at the cost of common devotees. The Minister pooh-poohed the talk of a tiff between the Endowments and the Finance Ministries over spending for the arrangements to be made for the Krishna Pushkarams, saying that the major needs would be addressed, while the Government, in general, was against unnecessary spending. Funding would not be a constraint for bathing ghats, sanitation, hygiene, accommodation etc., he said. Recalling the media and public outcry over the erstwhile TDP Government's huge spending for `Godavari Pushkarams,' he said "Our priority is to mitigate the woes of farmers and any form of exuberance will be avoided.'' The Minister declined to give any specific assurance on bringing back to Tirumala the displaced residents, who were evicted recently as part of the Tirumala masterplan. Mr.Rao, in his capacity as the APCC president, had earlier called on the residents and assured them of fighting for their cause.
The ZP chairperson, M.Reddemma, Tirupati MLA, M.Venkataramana, the TUDA chairman-designate, B.Karunakar Reddy, and the TTD executive officer, Ajeya Kallam, RDO Rami Reddy were among those who received him at the airport. Mr.Rao offered prayers at the famous Varasiddhi Vinayaka temple in Kanipakam near Chittoor, from where he left for Tirumala for the darshan of Lord Venkateswara.