600 acres temple land enough for poor: Govt

State informs Madras High Court that it needs the parcel to grant house site pattas to landless families.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court


“Of the 4.78 lakh acres of land owned by various temples across the state, we require only 600 acres to assign house pattas to the landless poor, particularly those belonging to the scheduled caste,” the Tamil Nadu government has informed the Madras High Court.

The 600 acre is currently being encroached upon by the poor for dwelling purpose which the state wanted to regularise and issue pattas to the squatters.

On November 22, a Division Bench of Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice N Seshasayee had stayed the operation of the government order which permitted regularisation of ‘non-objectionable’ encroachments on temple land.

The bench passed the interim order on a public interest litigation filed by A Radhakrishnan challenging the decision of the state.

Now, deputy secretary of revenue department S Anandhan has filed an additional counter affidavit justifying the governments stand.

In delta districts such as Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam, hundreds of acres of land are in the name of temples concerned wherein no free-hold land is available to put up dwelling units for the people who are living there and are working in the fields,” he said.

As per a survey, 19,717 poor families are living at present in 13,156 huts and 656 tiled dwelling units on land belonging to temples administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowmentsdepartment.

This apart, 2,355 poor families are residing in 748 huts and 1507 tiled units on other temple land, he added.

“The state requires only 600 acre of such temple land to assign house site patta after purchase as against 4. 78 lakh acre of land owned temples across the state,” the deputy secretary said.

“This will predominantly benefit a large number of poor families living in delta area who are mostly of scheduled caste as Nagapattinam district alone has 10,908 huts and Tiruvarur district has 6,773 huts as encroachment in temple lands, he said.

The government added that the exercise is a multi- pronged strategy to provide comprehensive housing for poor through all possible steps such as regularisation of unobjectionable encroachments, eviction of objectional encroachment by suitable resettlement through acquisition of private land, reclassification of grazing ground and relaxation of cases under the prohibitory order book.

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