Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on Thursday March 23rd, 2017, slammed the Orissa state government for failing to protect lands of Mutts, Temples and other religious institutions. His outburst coincided with the government forming a nine-member committee to probe alleged land usurpation in and around Swargadwar crematorium.
"Government never accorded due priority to temples and Mathas. Neglect of the government and collusion of government officials with land mafias resulted in the usurpation of hundreds of acres of land of Goverdhan Matha and properties of other temples", He said.
Gobardhan Mutt, the seat of the Shankaracharya of Puri, on Tuesday alleged that huge patches of land belonging to the Mutt have been illegally encroached upon and demanded the state government to evict the encroachers from the land.
The Mutt also alleged that several hotels and commercial buildings have been constructed over the land used as 'samadhi pithas' (burial ground) for Monks of the Mutt.
"Initially the Mutt had around 16 acres and 400 decimal of land in its name. But over the years only five acres are with the Mutt. Some hotel owners and businessmen in nexus with the government officers encroached upon large portion of the mutt's area and have constructed buildings. We have brought this to the notice of the authorities several times but no action is being taken," said Manoj Rath, spokesperson of the Mutt.
He said, despite Odisha high court's order to clear encroachment from two patches of land nothing has action has been taken. "There were also evidences that some patches of land were sold using forged documents and without taking permission of the mutt. But surprisingly the government is sitting over the matter," said Rath.
The Mutt also sought autonomous status from state government like other three Mutts of Shankaracharya in the country including Shringeri, Dwaraka and Badrinath.
"Unlike other three mutts of Shankaracharya, Gobardhan Peeth of Puri has been managed as per Jagannath Temple Act and Endowment Act. We demand the government to grant autonomous status to the Mutt," Rath added.
Source: Times of India