Chennai : 10 acres of Temple land restored by Collector after encroachment by local mosque committee

Ten acres of land belonging to the Arulmigu Sundara Varadharaja Perumal temple at Virugambakkam locality in Chennai has been recovered by the Collector from a local mosque committee, Swarajya has reported. The recovery was made after two decades of struggle by devotees and temple activists, the report said.

However, the Collector has not responded to a plea to retrieve the pond belonging to the same Temple that could have occupied 2.5 acres. The report says that the pond desilted in 1997 but vested interests made an attempt to take over the pond and the adjoining land, amounting to approximately 14 acres. The land was donated by the Sunguvar Brahmin community.

The report says that the local mosque committee managed to register 3 acres of the occupied land under its name with help from government staff. Soon, Hindu Munnani and temple activists got involved in the matter. A PIL was filed by Temple Worshippers Society President T R Ramesh in the matter and the Madras High Court accepted his arguments and cancelled the registration. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Collector was also asked to investigate the matter. However, representatives of the Mosque Committee did not appear when summoned and the investigation did not yield any fruitful results even after two years. Temple activist Jebamani Mohanraj petitioned the High Court to retrieve the Temple’s pond, unaware of these development.

The judge hearing the matter happened to be the same who had given the earlier ordered an investigation into the Temple land issue. Subsequently, the Collector was directed to immediately complete his investigation and determine whether a pond existed there. Since then, the matter is dragging on in the Courts.

The Collector had delivered a ruling whereby the land was restored to the Taluk Board, which was shown to have ownership of the land as per records dating to 1910. Although the ruling does not restore the land to the Temple, it is seen as upholding the ownership of the temple. However, no ruling has been passed with regards to the pond. Swarajya reported that Mohanraj has again petitioned the Madras high Court over the matter.

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