Keonjhar: The district administration has taken a slew of measures to streamline the management and daily rituals of Sribaldevjew temple in Keonjhar, but hundreds of acres of land belonging to the Lord have been under encroachment, a report said.
During the royal regime, the Lord had huge landed properties. Devotees are waiting to see when such encroached land of the Lord will be reclaimed.
Baldevjew temple had been a foundation of faith for people of Keonjhar over centuries. The Lord had a lot of landed properties inside and outside the district.
Erstwhile king of Keonjhar, Nrushingha Naryana Bhanjadeo donated 20 religious places and buildings, 86 big buildings, and 1187 small buildings to the endowment department April 10, 1970.
There was no special office to look after such properties. As per clause-52 of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, Keonjhar sub-collector has been additionally acting as executive office of the properties.
Significantly, the cost of maintenance of 20 buildings is borne from the funds of the temple. A total of 20,775.78 acres belonging to the Lord are in 28 villages in the district.
However, all the landed properties have not been recorded in the name of the Lord till date, even though the endowment department is looking after the landed properties. A large portion of the landed properties has been grabbed by people at different places.
About 1227.47 acres have been recorded in the name of the Lord while 19584.31 acres are to be made free from encroachers.
Amid such a situation, it was alleged that owing to shortfall in income from the Lord’s properties, daily rituals and maintenance of the temple are not properly conducted. Devotees alleged that the administration and the endowment department takes decisions repeatedly to collect revenue from the Lord’s landed properties, but they are not executed in reality.
The Lord’s landed properties were valued at crores of rupees. It was learnt, of the Lord’s landed properties, 15,879.88 acres are forest and hill category, 167.53 acres are Pokhari kisam, and 4,482.67 acres are cultivable land.
Locals said that if the endowment department manages to collect revenue from 1223.444 acre of land (out of 4482.67 acres), the income of the Lord can be augmented.
According to the sub-collector’s office, cases were filed against 113 encroachers at the court of Endowment Commission in Bhubaneswar.
The encroachers were served notices in this regard while 350 acres of the Lord have been demarcated at Kabitra mouza.
In Siddhamatha area, 39 acres have been reclaimed with fencing.
Devotees and locals demanded that the government appoint a special officer to look after the valuable landed properties and other assets of the Lord.
Nabakishrore Sahu, president of Ghunguru Club, observed that the administration should take expeditious step for reclaiming the land of the Lord.
Sahu lamented that the government had laid importance on Puri Jagannath temple while the 400-year old shrine has been given a short shrift with his valuable properties grabbed by scores of people.
Sub-collector Ramachandra Kisku said land demarcation process is on while encroachment cases have been filed against land grabbers.
He exuded hope that the landed prosperities of the Lord will be reclaimed.