HYDERABAD: Over 24,000 acres belonging to various temples (endowment) in Telangana is in the clutches of land-grabbers. This constitutes 25% of the 87,000 acres of endowment land in the state. The encroached land is almost double the size of Cyberabad, which includes the city’s IT corridor and financial hub.
While some squatters have sold the land by dividing it into plots, especially in Hyderabad and surrounding Ranga Reddy districts, others continue to use it for illegal cultivation.
According to an endowments department report submitted to the state government last year, the erstwhile Nalgonda district has lost 3,500 acres to encroachers, the maximum in the state. About 2,200 acres have been lost in Hyderabad while nearly 1,800 acres is with grabbers in neighbouring Ranga Reddy district. Of the total encroachments, 16,000 acres have already been registered in the names of private persons.
In a statement on Thursday, endowments commissioner Anil Kumar said, “It is observed some people with vested interests have encroached upon endowment land.”
Officials to crack the whip on encroachers
Kumar said: “All such encroachers are directed to vacate these lands and hand it over to temple authorities. If they fail to do so, apart from removing them, criminal action will be initiated against them.” Interestingly, the departm-ent has not done a land survey for the past five decades. The latest details were provided by revenue department during Land Records Updation Programme. The state government even directed the revenue department to issue pattadar passbooks to temples in the name of presiding deities.
At some places, officials resumed the land after they were informed about the encroachment by villagers. For instance, nearly 22 acres belonging to Somalingeshwara Swamy temple in Parigi was resumed a few months ago. The land had been sold by a retired mandal revenue officer who worked in Parigi. Kumar told TOI, “The department is now planning to take up a detailed survey of the land. A drive would be conducted to erect boards stating land belongs to endowments.”
Source : TOI