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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

TN govt decision to take over 35 acres of land belonging to Chola era temple opposed by Hindu organizations

The TN govt decision to take over 35 acres of land belonging to Veera Cholapuram Sri Ardhanareeswara temple located in Kallakurichi district for constructing a collectorate complex in the newly carved out district has come under severe criticism of Hindus in the state and country. Hindu Munnani and other Hindu organizations have taken the lead in protesting against this unjust move of the TN govt.

Reports state that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HRCE) Department, under whose control a majority of temples in the state fall have placed advertisements in newspapers indicating the sale of the said land at a price of rupees 1.98 crore which is way below its market value of around Rs 350 crore or even more as stated by Indu Makkal Katchi (IMK). It must be mentioned here that the Hindu Munnani (HM) puts its value at around Rs 100 crores.

The temple, like most others that are under the purview of HRCE, is lying in ruins, and as alleged by several Hindu organizations this sale is nothing but a betrayal of the trust of the devotees. The HRCE department has invited objection to the sale and an appeal is being sent out to devotees to register their protests against the sell-off.

Furthermore, the proposal itself is illegal according to provisions of section 34 of the HRCE Act. The TN CM Edapadi Pazhaniswami has already laid the foundation stone for the collectorate building on the 23rd of this month even before the last day for people to send in their objections (29/10/2020) when a meeting of the department to take a decision on the issue is slated to take place. A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) has been filed (WP No 15574) in the Madras High Court against this illegal sale.

Hindu Munnani State Secretary T Manoharan issuing a statement in relation to this issue has stated:

“The proposed alienation not only went against the intention of the donors of the land, which was to create an endowment to support the temple perpetually for its regular functioning but also a betrayal. Even according to the government’s guidelines, 35-acre land should fetch about Rs 100 crore, and fixing a value of Rs 1.98 crore is fraud and an illegal move. It is illegal for the government to take up construction activities in the site which is yet to become the property of the government. This is condemnable”.

This is an 11th-century temple commissioned by the celebrated Rajendra I Chola. Most of the ancient temples fall under the ambit of the HRCE department and are rather poorly maintained. The assets of these temples are worth several crores and ideally belong to the devotees and Hindu societies at large.

Smuggling of precious temple idols is rampant in TN as is the misuse of temple assets. The current decision is one in a long line of such misuse of power by the authorities with regards to Hindu assets and needs to be stopped in its tracks to save Hindu Dharma.

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