In yet another debate between the environmentalists and Tamil Nadu government, the latter’s decision to hand over the land to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) for building a replica of the world-famous Lord Balaji temple has recieved a lot of flak.
The 11.4 acres of proposed land, located at Kalaignar Karunanidhi Salai linking East Coast Road and Old Mahabalipuram road in Sholinganallur, will feature a ₹100 crore worth Tirumala replica, the state government said.
However, environmentalists and social activists have not recieved the news well as they claim the land to be a marshland and say the experts have named it an “eco-sensitive area.”
The move has kicked off debates whether the state government has rights to hand over its land to private parties, that too build a replica of the neighbouring state’s (Andhra Pradesh) temple.
Meanwhile, the state government’s move of giving the land free of cost is being viewed as a blatant violation of its own rules as it is the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department which manages temples in the state and has the control over temple lands and collecting rent from the tenants.
A state can indeed give land to another state, said a senior official of the department.
“In the case of TTD, only the land has been allotted. The cost of building the temple will borne by the TTD” he said to The Federal on condition of anonymity.
“This is a marsh land. We have recorded different kinds of raptors and water birds in this region for many years. If any construction comes up here, it will be a disastrous to the ecology” said Seshan, a renowned wildlife photographer, stating that the land is an eco-sensitive area.
Welcoming the TTD’s move, M. Senthil, state president, Tamil Nadu Hindu Temples Federation said that TTD should give preference to Tamil people for jobs during the construction of the proposed temple.
“Building a temple by TTD will not give any benefit to Tamil Nadu government since the replica will come under the control of TTD and not under HR & CE. Apart from the satisfaction that the bhakts of Tirupati temple can now worship the same lord here, there is not much benefit by the replica. So during the construction of the temple Tamils should be given priority. The other businesses surrounding the temple after construction should also go to Tamils” demanded Senthil.