VIJAYAWADA: Notwithstanding the claims of the endowments department of protecting temple lands, a whopping 12,000 acres of land belonging to various temples in Krishna and Guntur districts has been encroached upon by individuals and leaders having strong political lineage. This has resulted in a huge loss to the exchequer.
While the lands are being trespassed and taken into possession brazenly, the endowments officials promise that necessary action will be taken to recover the land. Krishna district has 40,564 acres of endowments land and Guntur district another 42,000 acres. More than 8,000 acres in Guntur and 4,000 acres of endowments land in Krishna district have been usurped in the last 10 years alone, a senior official said. “The lands are gobbled up by private persons with the help of field-level staff, priests and temple trustees,” he added.
Land sharks have their way by changing the title deeds in the resurvey settlement register (RSR), replacing the original papers with fake documents and obtaining fake passbooks. “Once they obtain the fake passbooks, they are free to sell the land to others,” said an insider. They even change measurements in the field map books to mark the location of the property.
In a recent case which was stumbled upon by officials, a piece of land measuring 1.68 acres belonging to Sri Visweswara Swamyvari temple was bearing the names of Kothapalli Manjula and Karampudi Venkatappaiah. The land, located in Gollapudi village in Vijayawada rural mandal, was originally registered in the name of ‘Sri Visweswara Swamyvaru’ in the RSR copy.
The district administration wanted to take posssession of the land for development works in Gollapudi. The duo, however, filed an application to the district administration staking claim to the land by attaching gift deed, water tax receipts, adangal copy, RSR copy and a letter stating that it’s not a temple land. Based on the documents, senior officials disbursed a compensation amount of Rs 1.08 crore to the two individuals.
When the endowments department also claimed compensation on the grounds that the land belongs to Sri Visweswara Swamyvari temple, joint collector Gandham Chandrudu ordered an enquiry during when irregularities committed by officials came out. “Senior officials failed in discharging their duties and allowed two individuals to eat away precious temple land,” assistant commissioner, endowments, Vijayawada circle, Ch Satyanarayana Prasad, pointed out.
He said the department leases out more than 17,000 acres in five divisions to tenant farmers. He also said 3,894 acres is given to priests on lease. “The priests can enjoy the benefits while they are offering their services to the temple. After their tenure, they must hand over the land to the department,” he added.
He said the department will take necessary action on encroachers. “We will soon launch a drive to identify all the lands that are encroached upon and take them back into our fold,” he added.
Credits ET Realty