The government has announced a new policy under which lands and shops belonging to temples in the State will be leased out only through the public auction route thus divesting Executive Officers and Endowments Department officials of their discretionary powers.

For better revenue

“This is to root out corruption and improve temple revenues,” Endowments Minister Gade Venkata Reddy said at a media conference here on Friday after a meeting with these officials.

He said the auctions would be completed by this month-end.

As part of the new policy, the rentals payable by lessees of the lands and shops have also been hiked to get additional revenue.

However, the lease of the lands would be extended by the specified period bypassing the auctioning in case of small/marginal farmers, if they paid two-thirds of the market value of the land.

Lease of shops

Similarly, the lease of shops of the temples with an annual revenue below Rs. 25 lakh, would be extended if the present lessees cleared the arrears and paid 33.3 per cent additional rent.

The extra rent payable by lessees of shops of big temples like Srisailam and Simhachalam would be 50 per cent.

While the temples and charitable institutions covered by the Endowments Act have an extent of 4.29 lakh acres in the State, 1.35 lakh acres out of this is leased out.

Another 60,000 acres is being offered on lease under the new policy, K.V. Ramanachary, Principal Secretary, Revenue (Endowments) and J.S.V. Prasad, Commissioner, Endowments, said.

Inquiry

Answering questions, the Minister said he would have an inquiry announced by Chief Minister K. Rosaiah into the alleged irregularities committed in the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams in the sale of ‘arjita seva' tickets.

He said plans were on cards to increase the term of the temple trust boards as the present two-year period was too short for them to do anything big for temples.

A judge would be appointed shortly to head the Endowments Tribunal to dispose of disputes relating to temple lands.

Keywords: New land policy

More In: Hyderabad