The State government will pay salaries to about 18,000 archakas and other administrative staff working in various temples, said Endowments Minister C. Ramachandraiah.

The minister who was here to participate in `Navarathri Ursavams’ atop Indrakeeladri on Saturday said, the government has taken a decision to bring the staff and archakas, working in temples which have Rs.2 lakh and above income per annum, into a common cadre and pay salaries through the Endowment Commissionerate.

Temples that were having less than Rs.2 lakh revenue would be handed over to the existing priests for paying salaries. With the decision, government had to bear an additional burden of Rs.47 crore, said the minister.

As per records, Endowments Department is having 4.60 lakh acres under various devastanams in the state. Instructions have been given to the officials to tally the Revenue and Endowments records, do physical verification of the properties and put the details of all lands, jewellery and other temple properties in the website. By manipulating revenue records, some people occupied temple lands and sold them, which is illegal.

To prevent encroachments and transfer of endowment lands, the state government is proposing to introduce a land allotment policy. “We have prepared a mechanism to protect all the 4.60 lakh acres of temple lands. Recently, the Endowments Department has won the case in court which declared that the 649 acres valuable land being enjoyed by a trust at Ghatkesar, belonged to government. Likewise, the court gave orders declaring that 1,600 acres belonged to Raghunatha Swamy temple at Nuzvid in Krishna district”.

Though several temple lands were under encroachment, the managements could not fight with the opponents due to poor financial position. Regarding allegations on Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devastanam officials, over not following protocol for district In-charge minister Thota Narasimham on Saturday, Mr. Ramachandraiah said an inquiry had been ordered.

More In: Vijayawada