Rajahmundry: Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to inform what action the Centre is contemplating to recognise temples coming under Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) as national monuments and to enforce an international obligation to protect world heritage structures and ornaments in its recent order.
Eluru based social activist B.K.S.R. Ayyangar has been waging a long war since 2010 by approaching various agencies, working under both the Centre and State Governments, by filing a writ petition in Andhra Pradesh High Court, serving legal notices and filing applications under Right to Information Act, 2005, seeking information as to what kind of measures the Centre is planning to initiate to protect TTD temples, inscriptions, valuable donations, 1,000 pillars temple and others.
In this process, Central Information Commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu issued an order in the case related to B.K.S.R. Ayyangar versus Public Information Officer, Archaeological Survey of India, on August 30 in New Delhi.
The CIC directed the Chief Public Information Officer of the PMO to inform what action the Centre is contemplating to recognise Tirumala temples as national monuments. It mentioned that the Union Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India, AP Archaeology Department, Department of Endowments and the AP Government are having statutory obligation to come up with details as to what they are planning to do with regard to protection of temples and others.
Reacting on issues raised by the social activist, seeking answers from both the Centre and State Governments, the CIC registered its seriousness on loss of cultural heritage based on the findings of a 20-member team from State Archaeology and Museums Department stating that no ornament has been tallied with any of the ornaments donated by Vijayanagara King Sri Krishna Devaraya to Lord Venkateswara as described in the inscriptions engraved on walls of temple at Tirumala.
It also asked about the fate of TTD specified authority’s resolution issued on January 20, 2011 to declare TTD Temple and its surrounding temples as ancient monuments under the provisions of Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and wondered as to why neither AP Government nor the Union Ministry of Culture or the PMO took a decision on it so far.
It also asked as to why reports of Justice Wadhwa and Justice Jagannadha Rao, with a recommendation to ensure transparent and foolproof system for protection of jewels in the Lord Venkateswara Temple, were not made public and followed by the authorities concerned.
It also expressed concern over failure to give a proper answer on the query pertaining to demolition of 1,000 pillars’ temple without any authority or sanction and the plea for its re-erection to restore its past glory by the TTD, AP Government and the Union Ministry of Culture.
In its order, the CIC made it clear that the Union Ministry of Culture and its Archaeology Department, AP Government, Endowments Department and TTD are having the responsibility to provide information to the appellant and also to the people in the country.
Social activist B.K.S.R. Ayyangar said: “I have been approaching several agencies, working under both the Centre and AP Government, seeking information on what measures are being initiated to protect TTD Temples and its treasures for long. The CIC order proved that a common man can also fight on such issues and make the Centre and State Governments respond.”
i) The CIC, in its order, mentioned that TTD works under AP Government and its efforts to deny transparency and accountability in its obligations is declared as immoral, illegal and even unethical. It opined that the AP Government or its Endowment Department should have taken responsibility to implement RTI Act, 2005, when the TTD is unwilling to do so. It recommended to AP Government to ensure strict implementation of RTI Act, 2005, by TTD.
ii) The CIC felt that the PMO is expected to take all measures to ensure protection of national or world heritage coupled with Hindu religious organisation such as TTD.
iii) The case is posted for hearing on September 28.