The Madras High Court has prohibited the Thiruporur sub-registrar from issuing any encumbrance certificate to properties belonging to the Thiruporur Kandaswamy Temple and another trust spread over 2,000 acres on Chennai-Puducherry East Coast Road and Mahabalipuram.
The restraint by the court, issued during the weekend, will protect these properties, belonging to Lord Skanda in Chennai's outskirts and to the Arulmigu Alavandhar Nayakar Charity. These lands are valued over thousands of crore of rupees and are being eyed by land-sharks and encroachers.
Admitting a petition filed by advocate B Jagannathan, Justices M M Sundresh and R Hemalatha tagged it along with all such similar petitions pending before it. The petitions will be taken up for hearing on 10 September.
The petition said that the lands of the temple and charity trust, under the control of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department, were under the jurisdiction of the Thiruporur sub-registrar and they were being eyed about two dozen groups, including some backed politically.
Jagannathan told the court that efforts are being made regularly to transfer the properties illegally and some had forged documents to stake a claim from other parts of the State.
The advocate pleaded with the court that the authorities should survey all the lands and file a report if there are any encroachments. Until then, no encumbrance certificate should be issued to any of these lands.
Pointing out that those refusing to cooperate with these groups trying to take illegal possession of the lands are being threatened by politicians, Jagannathan said the lands are being encroached and misused.
He sought a stay saying that the Revenue, Registration and HR&CE Departments had a collective responsibility and they had to safeguard the valuable assets of the temples.
Local media has put the value of these lands between Rs 6,000 crore and Rs 60,000 crore.
Last year, reports said that the temple’s land at Kalabhavan village near Kelambakkam on Old Mahabalipuram Road was encroached.
This land had been leased out for agriculture purposes by the Temple administration in 1936 and it had received payments for this.
The temple lands’ registration records bear the name of the executive officer, who had leased them out then. Some 76 acres, worth nearly Rs 700 crore at current market prices, had been leased out.
However, the temple authorities during an inspection found out that the lands had been sold to private persons by forging documents, with the change of ownership being shown way back in 1994.
In another case, the documents of the Thiruporur Temple were forged and transferred to the local panchayat, which sold it to a private housing firm. A road was also allowed to be built in violation of the land laws.
In at least 10 locations, buildings and commercial structures have been constructed in properties belonging to the Thiruporur Kandaswamy Temple. All these were facilitated through forged documents.
Similar efforts are being made with regard to the lands of the Arulmigu Alavandhar Nayakar Charity near Mahabalipuram. Local reports said that initially the lands are encroached in the guise of paving a path to houses close to the shores of the Bay of Bengal sea.
The Thiruporur Kandaswamy Temple was built in the 10th century by the Pallavas, according to archaeological records. Legend has it that Lord Skanda fought with demons or rakshasas in the air at Thiruporur. Sage Agastya had visited the place and the idol of Lord Skanda had appeared on its own from the rocks.
The temple had got submerged but a sage from Madurai, Chidambara Adigal, located it and got it dug out in the 17th Century. Following this, a grand temple was built.
The temple, which has a tank which never goes dry, is also administered by the HR&CE Department.
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