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Maharashtra government’s proposal to take over temples  


 Mumbai, May 18, 2010: The state government’s proposal to take over administrative control of around two lakh temples in the state on grounds of mismanagement has evoked strong opposition from temple managements who allege that they run the temples more efficiently than the government, and have threatened to drag the state to the court if the plan is implemented. 
 State law and judiciary minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil on Monday announced that the government may take control of the temples in as soon as two months. “We have noticed cases of mismanagement and corruption in some temples, which is why we are thinking of taking over all the temples. A decision will be taken in two months,” he said. 
  Meanwhile, Vikhe-Patil has asked the charity commissioner, who is the guardian of the trusts under the Public Trusts Act, to submit a comprehensive list of all the temples registered with his office. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the state already oversees the administration of all the temples.
  Madhav Ketkar, a trustee of Haji Malang Trust, said that he will challenge the move in court. “Our family has been maintaining the shrine since 700 years. The Supreme Court has given us rights of worship and maintenance of the shrine. If the government tries to snatch away this right, we will drag them to court,” he said. Ketkar added that if the government takes over, there will be chaos as the 
government officials won’t be able to understand the demands of the devotees. Surendra Savai, a trustee of Godiji Jain Temple in Pydhonie, is also opposed to the move. “Our systems are different. Whatever money comes in is utilised only for that particular purpose. People give boli during festivals, and they donate because they trust us. If the government takes over, no one will give any money. We have old temples, and we raise funds for their restoration. A large amount of Jain donations is spent on protecting animals. The government had come up with this idea earlier too, but we fought against it and they had to eventually drop it,” he said.
  Bhalchandra Walawalkar, assistant manager of Mahalakshmi Trust, said, “We cannot comment right now as we will have to wait and see how the situation develops. However, the government had mooted the same idea before, but it did not workout.”
  A Jain sadhu, Naypadmasagarji Maharaj, said, “I do not understand why they want to get into and interfere with religious deeds. When the government cannot tackle corruption in its own system, why does it want to get into this? Corruption will creep into the dharmic deeds as well.” Source: dnaindia


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