Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: 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.

“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.

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.