Sharks gobbling up Lord Rama's temple land in AP village

Sharks gobbling up Lord Ramas temple land in AP village

After bifurcation of AP, 890 acres of land located in AP

Khammam: Even the lands belonging to Lord Rama are not safe. The authorities of Sri Seetha Ramachandra Swamy Devasthanam which administers the functioning of Lord Rama's temple in Bhadrachalam are facing the daunting task to protect 890 acres of land worth crores of rupees. Though the encroachment has been taking place for decades, the government has done nothing to protect the land from the encroachers.

This land is now in Purushothapatnam village of the Yetpaka revenue division under Alluri district in Andhra Pradesh which is about 3 km from the temple town of Bhadrachalam. When Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, this village of Purushothapatnam was merged with Andhra Pradesh.

The authorities told The Hans India that the temple used to get some income from these lands in the undivided Andhra Pradesh but now that it has gone into another state, they were not getting the lease amount from the farmers, according to Executive Officer B Shivaji. It is alleged that the local leaders were not only resorting to the encroachment of land but had also asked the farmers not to pay the lease amount which is just Rs 3,300 per acre.

This had emboldened them to cultivate the land without any fear, he said. They are now trying to start a real estate venture in the temple land. "We are struggling to protect them," said Sivaji. The EO said that they approached AP government and informed the District Collector and Project Officer of ITDA Chittoor to act on the encroachers and protect the temple land.

He said they hope that the administration will act.

He said when the temple authorities came to know that the locals of Purushothapatnam were constructing permanent structures on the encroached land, temple priests went to the village to take possession of the lands. They also told the villagers that just because the land now falls under the jurisdiction of AP, it does not mean that they have any right to it. No one except the Bhadrachalam temple authorities has the right over them and no one can take up any permanent constructions.

He said the government of Telangana 2017 had proposed to construct cottages and develop a theme park, a tribal haat, and a 'Goshala' in those lands in 2017. But it did not happen so far.

According to the official records the historic Sri Ramachandra Swamy temple built by Bhakta Ramadasu (Kancharla Gopanna) during the Qutb Shahi period in the 17th century has around 1,250 acres of land situated in Khammam district, the remaining in East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts in Andhra Pradesh.

A major chunk of land around 910 acres is in Purushothapatnam near Bhadrachalam town. It was donated by the devotee Somaraju Purushottama Dasu in October 1878.

Around 27.5 acres were sold by the Endowments department in the untied AP for setting up some education institutions and tobacco boards. Now, the temple has been left with 889.50 acres. A major portion of this land, measuring 722 acres, had been under cultivation by the farmers with which the temple authorities had fought a legal battle for several years.

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