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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Temples in Karnataka got highest allocation of funds under BJP in last 5 years

🔴 Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced at a recent meeting of the BJP state executive committee that he plans to bring in a law to ensure that temples are “managed independently''

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: January 4, 2022 11:34:47 am
Official state data showed that temples in Karnataka received the highest allocation of funds under the BJP than any other party that was in power in the last five years. (Representational image)

At a time when the BJP government in Karnataka is pushing to bring in a law that frees temples from state control, official state data showed that temples received the highest allocation of funds under the BJP than any other party that was in power in the last five years.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced at a recent meeting of the BJP state executive committee that he plans to bring in a law to ensure that temples are “managed independently” and are not subjected to financial controls under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act of 199.

“Hindu temples are subjected to various controls and rules. Permission are needed from officials to utilise temple funds. We will free temples from laws and conditions. We will ensure that they are managed independently,” Bommai said on December 29.

According to data on grants given by the state government to 34,563 temples under the control of the endowments department in the last five years – which was furnished in the state legislative council last month by muzrai minister Shashikala Jolle – the BJP government has allocated Rs 465 crore for Hindu temples and religious institutions in the 2020-21 period, the highest in the last five years.

According to the data, the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah allocated Rs 447 crore in 2017-18, the coalition Congress-JDS government that was in power allotted Rs 248 crore in 2018-19, and the B S Yediyurappa-led BJP government allotted Rs 294 crore in its first year (2019-20) and increased it to Rs 465 crore last year.

The Congress party in Karnataka has opposed the BJP government’s proposal to free temples from state control, calling it an agenda by a small group in the BJP against the majority of people of Karnataka. Former Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah has alleged that the BJP is carrying out false propaganda that funds collected by temples were being used for the upkeep of other religious institutions.

“This is a plot to capture assets of 80 per cent of the Hindu community and vest it with two to three per cent of the community. If the government proceeds with the move it will be an insult to the struggles of people for over 1000 years in the state,” Siddaramaiah said on Sunday.

“Hindu temples and religious institutions are being provided annuity and tasdik (compensation for land vested with the government) by the state government. This is being done from government funds. These are government compensation funds and not funds earned by the temples,” he added.

BJP general secretary C T Ravi has accused Congress leaders in Karnataka of following in the footsteps of the Mughal king Aurangzeb and the British in wanting to utilise temple funds.

“The funds donated to the temples by devotees must be used for development of the temples and social purposes. The chief minister has taken a good decision to free temples,” the BJP leader has stated.

According to government data, 205 temples in the state earn up to Rs 25 lakh per annum, 139 earn up to Rs 10 lakh, and as many as 34,219 temples earn less than Rs 5 lakh per annum.

The temples that come under the muzrai department earned around Rs 200 crore per annum in pre-Covid days, with over 90 percent being contributed by a handful of big temples.

Under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997, the funds collected from temples is added to a common pool at the rate of “10 per cent of net income of temples whose gross income exceeds Rs 10 lakh” and five per cent in the case of institutions whose gross income is between Rs five lakh and Rs 10 lakh. The funds are used to maintain the temples.

“The common pool fund is utilised as per the provisions under Section 19 of the Act with the prior approval from a Rajya Dharmika Parishath,” according to the endowments department.

The funds allotted every year to the endowments department through the state government is used to pay compensation for temple land vested with the government, expansion and development of the temples and to pay for special religious events like pilgrimages by citizens.

According to the data provided in the state legislature last month, the major allotment for temples by the BJP government last year was specifically for improving basic amenities at religious sites with Rs 125 crore being allocated for the purpose compared to a previous high of Rs 42 crore allotted in 2017-18 by the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah. The BJP government also provided an unprecedented grant of Rs 127 crore to various mutts in the state in the 2020-21 period, as per the data.

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