CHENNAI: The several thousands of temples that dot the landscape of Tamil Nadu have been serving as Kamadhenu to the successive Dravidian parties that have been ruling the state for over five decades, especially in ensuring funds flow for numerous welfare schemes including marriage assistance scheme. Despite this, the extent of revenue earned by temples continues to remain a mystery.
Despite facing criticism from the Sangh Parivar that it is pampering the minorities, the DMK too has used the temple revenue to fund welfare schemes, in the past.
With temple priests not being paid their salaries and unable to assess the extent of revenue generated by each temple, the Kovil Pusarikal Nala Sangam has demanded the state government to constitute a special committee to probe the temple revenue.
About 25,000 temples out of over 38,000 temples under the ambit of TN Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department have been projecting an annual revenue of about Rs 10,000 till date maintaining the status quo since they were brought under the administrative control of the HR & CE about four decades ago.
This has forced the village temple priests to step up the demand for auditing temple funds and disclosing the accounts to the public. They truth, they said, should be brought out.
The conference of the Kovil Pusarikal Nala Sangam (Temple Pujari welfare association) which was held recently in Salem under the chairmanship of its state president P. Vasu, has urged the state government to take note of the situation and initiate a detailed probe and ensure justice. The funds apart, the priests of those temples have been working without salaries for many months together.
Further, another issue that has been a cause for great concern to the temple priests is the financial aid of `1 lakh each provided along with public contribution to village temples - some of the ancient ones, to conduct single puja under the oru kala puja scheme.
“The amount is deposited into the bank accounts of about 13,000 temples which lacked funds to perform a puja a day to enable them to conduct the puja on daily basis. But over the years many of them managed to generate revenue and do not require the aid from the government. So, this assistance could be diverted to those temples which deserve the funds,” a priest said.