CHENNAI, INDIA, July 15, 2017 (Times of India): Thousands of acres of land belonging to temples across Tamil Nadu continues to be in the name of private persons. The state government has recovered 5559 acres of such lands owned by 789 temples in the last six years. This vast acreage is 1/10th the size of Coimbatore city. It has been restored and registered in the name of temples now. The land is worth (US) tens of millions of dollars, officials said.
Documents tabled in the assembly on Friday show that vast areas of temple land transferred to private persons as pattas [deeds, or record of land ownership] were wrongly transferred during the implementation of the Updating Registry Scheme (UDR). To rectify this and get the pattas back in the name of Hindu Religious Institutions, two District Revenue Officers (DROs) have been posted as special officers at Madurai and Coimbatore, the government said. This is an ongoing process and steps are being taken across the state to restore temple lands, a senior HR and CE official said.
HPI note: In India, temples are legally in the name of the Deity, eg, “Siva Nataraja.” In this scheme, a person with the name “Siva Nataraja” would file to have the deed fraudulently issued to him under the UDR.