In a startling revelation, renowned Free Temples activist TR Ramesh has shed light on the creative yet dubious methods employed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) Department in Tamil Nadu to siphon and mismanage funds allocated for temple maintenance. Since the rise of the DMK government in 2021, the officials at Tamil Nadu HR & CE department have allegedly been concocting novel strategies for looting temple resources.
The activist has compiled a list of various instances, including the following highlights:
a. Swimming pools for Temple elephants
b. Memorials for deceased Temple elephants
c. Toyota Innova Crysta Car funded by temples for Kumkum production – Rs. 30+ lakhs
d. Toyota Innova Crysta Car funded by temples for Ministers and Commissioners camp visits – Rs. 30 lakhs
e. Secular college funded by temple funds in Chief Minister Stalin’s constituency – Estimated Rs. 15.00 Crores
f. Secular college funded by temple funds in DMK MP Kanimozhi’s constituency – Estimated Rs. 15.00 Crores
g. Vastra maryada to temples in Malaysia – HRCE officials’ foreign visits with Temple funds
h. Unauthorised civil constructions, including commercial complexes – Rs. 1200 crores
The list goes on, exposing a pattern of mismanagement and misuse of temple funds by the HR & CE Department.
Recently, an innovative method to divert funds has come to light. The excuse given is the provision of 10 Lakh Biscuit “pockets” for Ayyappa devotees in Sabarimala. The funds for this initiative have originated from Hindu Temples in Tamil Nadu, sparking concerns about the legitimacy of such expenditures.
Questions raised by Ramesh include:
- Is there a verified record of 10 lakh biscuit packets being bought and distributed without pilferage and wastage?
- Did Ayyappa devotees request or approve such an expenditure?
- Does this expenditure align with Section 66 of the TN HR & CE Act, 1959?
- Who authorised this expenditure, and under which provision of law?
- How will the audit process ensure transparency and accountability?
Ramesh warns the Commissioner of TN HR & CE Department of the potential legal consequences, emphasising the importance of adhering to the Tamil Nadu HR & CE Act, 1959. He urges the Commissioner to consider the advice given by the Advocate General of the Tamil Nadu Government, which underlines that only trustees are authorised to use temple funds for permitted purposes. Failure to comply, he cautions, may lead to criminal prosecution for the Commissioner and his subordinates. The Commissioner is urged to prioritise the sanctity of temple funds, resist contempt of court, and ensure compliance with established legal frameworks.
The HR & CE Dept in Tamil Nadu has been at the centre of controversy for quite some time, ever since the DMK government came to power. Recently, it was alleged that an HR & CE Dept official assaulted an Ayyappa Bhakta in Srirangam for chanting Govinda Govinda.