Residents of Pallavaram are divided over the taking over of an Amman temple in their locality by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department.

Those opposing the government takeover of the Devi Gangai Amman Temple staged a demonstration in Pallavaram recently.

According to residents, the Devi Gangai Amman Temple on Dargah Road, Malaganandapuram, is about a century old and has, until now, been managed by residents of the locality. Personal rivalry, growing from control of administration, fund management and related issues, between two factions had risen over the past few months.

While one section had repeatedly urged the State government to take over the temple administration, the other opposed it. Recently, when the matter came up before authorities of the Tambaram division of the revenue department, Kancheepuram district, it was recommended the administration be taken over by the HR and CE department, residents of Malaganandapuram said.

Following this, an official note was circulated last week by the HR and CE department, informing residents as well as temple administrators of the takeover of the temple.

An official of the HR and CE department said they intervened only after they received appeals from residents, requesting them to prevent alleged mismanagement of temple funds and other resources.

“We welcome the move as it would bring in transparency,” said Gautham, a resident who had campaigned for government control.

B. Rajappa, a former two-time Pallavaram municipal councillor and a State-level functionary of the Bahujan Samaj Party, is among those opposing the move. He said, all these years, the little development that had been carried out in the temple was a result of voluntary efforts by residents of Malaganandapuram without any government support, and moves to take over the temple were arbitrary and unfair, he said.

HR and CE Department officials said the temple would be under the control of the executive officer of the Ranganatha Perumal Temple, Tiruneermalai. They said the department had stepped in earlier too to prevent disputes from erupting over other well-known temples.

For instance, the department had taken over administration of the Irani Amman Temple along the Grand Southern Trunk Road near Tambaram when it became a bone of contention between the Perungalathur town panchayat and Vandalur village panchayat. They were hopeful of a clear and amicable resolution over the Devi Gangai Amman Temple too, they said.

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