Vijayapura(Bijapur): Minister for Religious and Charitable Endowments that includes Muzarai, Hajj and Wakf, Shashikala Jolle has said that the Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will soon take a decision on constituting an expert committee on freeing temples from government control.
Addressing a press meet on wednesay, she said that the government has not taken any final decision on handing over the total control of the Muzarai temples to the temple trusts.
“ As we all know, the Chief Minister made an announcement related to this. He only said that the government is contemplating to free the temple from government control”, he said.
Jolle said that the government first wants to study various laws and models being implemented in other parts of the State on control over the temples.
The expert committee will find out the details on how other States are managing the temples and what laws have been made. Based on the report of the committee, the government will take a final call.
On the allegations of the Congress that the BJP is conspiring to handover the temple to trusts managed by RSS, she refuted the allegations.
“ Even today, we have a check and balance system in temple that comes under Muzarai department. While each temple has its own advisory committee or endowment committee, their activities are monitored by a government appointed official”, she said.
She said that based on the total earning of the temple from donations and charities, the temple has been categorized as A, B and C.
The department of Religious and Charitable Endowments popularly known as Muzrai administer about 35,000 Hindu religious institutions which receive grants from the Government of Karnataka. The department is operated under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment (amended) Act, 2011.
Grade ‘A’ temple means those temples that have annual earnings beyond Rs. 25 lakh. “ The government has made the rule that the temple should give 10 % of the total amount to the government and the remainder the temple trust will keep for the development and maintenance of the temple.
Karnataka has around 1,80,000 temples, of which only 35,500 temples come under the Muzrai department. These temples are put in three categories based on their annual income. Grade A has 205 temples that earn more than Rs 25 lakh annually; Grade B has 139 temples earning between Rs 5 and Rs 10 lakh per annum; Grade C has 34,219 temples that earn less than Rs 5 lakh per annum. The temples have been directed to submit their annual audit report to the government before the end of this month.
Only temples under Grade A and B contribute to the Muzrai department — an amount of 10% and 5% of their annual income respectively. This money goes into a common pool administered by the Commissioner of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments department. The money is used to pay for the maintenance of the smaller Hindu temples that don’t make enough money. This includes payment of the archakas (priests), payment of electricity and water bills, maintaining the cleanliness of the temple premises, expenses incurred for provisions for pooja like flowers, coconuts etc. Only the temple employees are paid salaries drawn from the temple funds. The salaries of the Muzrai department employees who are involved in activities like audit of temple ledgers, distribution of funds to low-income temples, organising facilities including food and lodging for pilgrims, is paid for by the state government.