Tamil Nadu’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department last week uploaded land records and title documents (pattas, chittas, gift deeds) belonging to thousands of temples in the state to its website.
The department completed matching data from documents for 3,43,647 acres with the Revenue Department’s records, said an official. This represents more than 70 per cent of land belonging to temples in the state, which translates to 4,78,272 acres under their control.
Tamil Nadu has 44,258 temples.
“Title deeds of temple lands were corroborated with the software available with the state Revenue Department. These were classified into three categories: fully compatible, partly compatible, and new group. Steps will be taken to ensure that the title deeds of all the lands belonging to the temples are in the name of the temples concerned,” HR&CE Minister minister PK Sekar Babu said.
Digitisation of papers regarding properties and assets owned by temples started in May, in line with the poll promise made by Chief Minister MK Stalin. The decision to make the documents available in the public domain was taken by the newly elected government amid a campaign by the BJP, RSS and godman Jaggi Vasudev to get temples in Tamil Nadu “freed from the clutches of the government”.
Earlier this month The Federal had reported that in villages across Tamil Nadu, caste Hindus continue to have a say in who can and cannot pray in temples. This despite the DMK government’s promise to appoint eligible non-Brahmins as priests in HR&CE-managed temples within its first one-hundred days.
These village temples – nearly one lakh dotted across the state – fall outside the purview of the HR&CE, which manages and controls temple administration in Tamil Nadu.