Tamil Nadu State government, which had undertaken a humongous task of digitalizing all land records of temples under the government control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department of the Tamil Nadu government, had found that at least 25,868 acres of land worth around Rs 10,000 crore that belongs to many temples across the state is under encroachment.
Officials had shockingly made a finding that that in various temples, temple properties are ‘wrongly’ registered in the names of individuals who had the same names of the temple deity.
For example, a part of land that belongs to the famous Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore in Chennai, was encroached by a person named Kapali, a man having same name as the temple deity. An individual named Parthsarathy, encroached a plot of land owned by the Parthasarathy temple, and many Mariamman temples in the state are encroached people named Mariammals.
Details about this shocking encroachment came to limelight during an assessment that was carried out for the digitization of land records of temples and after having a reconfirmation with temples that owned the encroached parcels of land. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments had filed cases in various courts to reclaim ownership.
“A total of 674.40 acres of land belonging to 156 temples has been recovered, and at least recovered. Several properties were registered in the names of individuals, who had taken on the names of the temples or their presiding deities. Now, we are in the process of reclaiming all this land. A total 6,847.26 acres of land belonging to 1,466 temples is still to reclaimed,” said an official. Currently, 66% of the work has been completed. The remaining work pertains to cases pending in the courts” said an official to Times of India.