Hindu temples are increasingly becoming an easy target for state governments across the country with Sri Ardhanareeswara temple in Tamil Nadu becoming the latest victim as the Tamil Nadu government attempts to “acquire” land belonging to temple at a throwaway cost.
A Tamil Nadu-based affiliate of the RSS, Hindu Munnani, has alleged that the state authorities are planning to “acquire” 35 acres of land belonging to the Sri Ardhanareeswara temple to build a Collectorate complex for the recently carved out Kallakurichi district.
The affiliate in a statement alleged that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department has placed advertisements in newspapers about the intended sale of the temple’s land. It is alleged that a meagre sum of Rs 1.98 crore has been fixed as the price for 35-acre land which has raised some uncomfortable questions for the state government. According to the government’s guidelines, 35-acre land should approximately fetch Rs 100 crore – a move which has been termed as “fraud and an illegal move” by the Munnani.
“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,” said State Secretary of the Munnani, T Manoharan while urging the people to protest against the government’s move to sell the centuries-old temple’s land.
What has irked the activists further is the fact that the Endowment department instead of thinking about the upkeep of the temple which currently lies in ruins, is actively trying to hand over the temple’s land to the state government for a pittance.
It is important to note that Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami himself had laid the foundation stone for the Collectorate on October 23 — which is before the Endowment Department handed it over to the state government.
“The attempt is illegal as per section 34 of the HR&CE Act. The temple is dilapidated and in shambles,” said temple activist Rangarajan Narasimhan.
While the Endowment department has invited objections, if any, to the proposal, and is slated to hear public views on October 29, the process is a mere formality as the construction of the Collectorate are in full swing, moving forward on the assumption that the land will be “acquired” by the state government, alleged Narasimhan.
It is believed that the Sri Ardhanareeswara temple was built around 1,500 years ago by the Chola dynasty with the temple being brought under the Endowment department in the 1990s.
It is appalling that Hindu places of worship are becoming an easy target for successive state governments with an obsession of controlling Hindu places of worship by the government. While no other religion permits government interference, Hindus are repeatedly observing government interference in their places of worship which must be stopped.