Special Correspondent

Endowments Act in for sweeping changes

HYDERABAD: Sale of temple lands in towns and cities of the State will not be allowed and instead retained to serve the original purpose as intended by the donors.

The lands will be used to generate income to ensure conduct of daily temple rituals.

For the purpose of leasing the temple lands, a re-definition will be provided to "landless poor", enhancing the holding limit to a realistic level.

The Government proposed these and other sweeping changes in the temple administration system through a Bill introduced in the Assembly on Wednesday by Endowments Minister J. C. Diwakar Reddy.

It seeks to amend the Andhra Pradesh Charitable & Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act. The Andhra Pradesh Archaka Samakhya hailed the Bill.

`Difficult situation'

The Minister said strict adherence to the Act had caused a "difficult situation".

Archakas opted out as they failed to get salaries and lead a decent life.

Temples remained "impoverished". Continuance of archaka families was necessary to preserve the Hindu custom.

They should be appointed on a priority basis whenever a vacancy arose.

The Bill proposed formation of `bhakta samajams' for each temple to conduct religious programmes, including processions, but they would work under the Sanathana Dharma Parishad.

Welfare fund

It would provide legislative sanctity to the Archaka Welfare Fund with contributions from large temples and enhanced the income limits, thereby reclassifying them.