On the directive of the Madras High Court, the Salem Collector has ordered a detailed enquiry into a major land scam in which 350 acres of lands of the ancient and HR and CE - maintained Sri Kailasanatha Swamy Temple at Taramangalam, near here, have been allegedly `usurped’ by some powerful persons.

A representation by A. Radhakrishnan, founder president of Thiruthondargal Sabai, Tamil Nadu, urged the Chief Justice of the Madras HC to issue orders to `retrieve and restore’ lands worth Rs 100 crore, belonging to the architecturally-rich Taramangalam temple located at Iruppalai village in Salem district from the clutches of land sharks and encroachers.

He claimed that the land usurpers had fabricated documents and transferred title deeds to their individual names. “Even revenue records of the temple lands have been forged and altered,” he further said. The lands, as per temple records, were classified as `Inam Maniyam’ (free distribution) and should have been given to temple gurukkals (purohits).

Mr. Radhakrishnan said that as the value of lands had increased many times, the HR and CE department, which had `listed’ the ancient temple, should take steps to retrieve the lands. Hence the Chief Justice, he had prayed, should issue appropriate orders to retrieve the lands and also launch criminal proceedings against the land grabbers.

The petition was forwarded to the Salem Collector K Maharabushanam for necessary action. Based on the directive, Mr. Maharabushanam, through a proceeding, appointed a committee comprising officials from the Departments of Records, Survey and Registration besides the `H’ Section in the Collectorate. He asked the officials to carry out field inspection to `identify’ the encroached temple lands after verifying the documents.

He asked the Joint Commissioner of HR and CE, Salem to take all steps in this regard without any further delay and told the Salem Superintendent of Police to provide protection to the official team that would be taking up field verifications and other related exercises to retrieve the lands. Besides, he also instructed the Sankagiri Tahsildhar to submit a detailed report on the land scam.

The 10{+t}{+h}century temple located 12 kilometres away from Salem city is a great tourists’ delight, for its exquisite stone carvings of the Yaali, with a rotating stone ball in its mouth, beautiful Manmathan (God of Love) and Lord Siva and Parvathi in unique forms.