Madurai

Time to prevent appropriation of temple lands

Karumuttu T Kannan, Industrialist and Fit Person of Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. File photo  

A recent complaint by Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple administration with the Collector about the appropriation of 14 acre of temple land in Ponmeni by an individual has brought to light the need for long-term measures to curtail more such incidents of illegal transfer.

Sources from the temple administration said this prime property in Ponmeni was donated to the temple during the time of the Pandya Kings. It leased out to an individual who used the area for cultivation. The the value of land is estimated at around ₹200 crore. The transfer of patta as private land was said to have occurred on October 15, 2018 to an individual named Velivamuthu Yogeswaran.

The officials from the HR and CE say that the individual colluded with a staff of the Revenue Department to transfer the patta.

Similar such attempts to illegally transfer Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple-owned patta land have taken place in the past. In October 2018, patta of 1.27 acres of temple land was transferred to three individuals by the then District Revenue Officer K. Veluchamy.

An inquiry was later sought in the matter and the land was transferred back to the temple.

In another incident in August, 2018, a total of 1.8 acres of land belonging to the temple, also located in a prime location, was transferred to a few individuals by the then Madurai North Tahsildar. Later, it was transferred back to temple and the Tahsildar was suspended.

The temple Fit Person Karumuttu T. Kannan says that such transfer of land is completely illegal and says that the mistake usually happens on the side of the revenue department.

“The temple on the other hand maintains complete physical records of the all lands that belong to the temple,” he said.

Madurai Central MLA P. T. R. Palanivel Thiagarajan states that he intends to forward the complaint submitted by the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple administration to the Tamil Nadu Committee on Public Accounts for hearing.

“The HR and CE needs to conduct an annual physical audit through an intensive survey on the status of land owned by temples. The record management system for land in the country needs to be completely reworked as well,” he said.

A source from the HR and CE said that it had already began the process of digitisation of land records and intends to upload all records throughout the State. He adds that the Meenakshi temple land records are regularly monitored.

Collector (in-charge) S. Shantha Kumar, who is also the District Revenue Officer, says that the first round of inquiry with revenue officials was conducted on Friday.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 6:58:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/time-to-prevent-appropriation-of-temple-lands/article27690359.ece

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