Staff Reporter

J.C. Diwakar Reddy clarifies on jurisdiction of Tirumala shrine

Government says more land will be added if necessary by writing to the CentreMinister cites pathways included in the Fort St. George Gazette of 1940

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh Endowments Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy on Sunday refuted reports that the jurisdiction of the Tirumala temple, abode of Lord Venkateswara, included only two hills and said that all the seven hills formed part of the holy shrine.

At a press conference here, the Minister read out the original order on the Tirumala hills published in the Fort St. George Gazette on September 24, 1940, and sought to dispel reports on the activities of Christian missionaries in Tirumala.

Reacting to the controversy following the `Tirupati declaration' adopted by matadhipathis and sadhus on Saturday on the jurisdiction of the temple, Mr. Reddy read out the names of the various `Theerthas', the pathways to which were included in the St. George Gazette and the GO issued on September 26 last year.

Pathways listed

He listed the pathways to the different `Theerthams', including Sesha, Kumaradhara, Sankasananda, Papavinasana, Gopala, Thumbur, Pasupu, Ramakrishna, Bhima and Kapila that were part of what was henceforth to be called "Tirumala Township."

Mr. Reddy said reports that only two hills belonged to the temple were `wrong' and urged presspersons to keep in mind the sensitive issue, which required care when portrayed in the media.

"If necessary, we will include more land in the township. We will do so by writing to the Centre, asking to denotify the land required from the Forest Department," he said.

Root of problem

The Minister explained that the problem had cropped up when Balaji Houses and Landowners Welfare Association, Tirumala, filed a writ petition in the High Court in 1998 referring to the gazette notification of 1940, which identified the area as Tirumalai village. The petitioners had contended that as it was termed `village' elections should be held.