BERHAMPUR: The Jagannath temple administration in Puri has decided to sell off lands owned by the shrine in several parts of the state, a top official said.
"The sale of land will help the temple to generate huge funds. We will create a corpus fund from the money for the shrine's development," the temple's chief administrator, Arabinda Kumar Padhee, said on Thursday.
The administration has estimated that the shrine owned 56,858 acres of land in 23 districts. "Around 25,000 acres were identified and taken possession by the temple administration. Efforts are on to identify the remaining lands," said Padhee, who assumed the additional charge of the revenue divisional commissioner (Southern division).
Several such properties were occupied by land mafias and the temple was not earning any revenue from them. "The temple's managing committee had decided to sell these lands in a meeting last month," Padhee said. "We are trying to vacate the lands and sell them by making plots. In some places, we will invoke the government's uniform policy to sell shrine lands in the prevailing prices. The state government had formulated the uniform policy exclusively for the 12th century shrine to sell off its lands in the market price," he added.
Padhee said huge patches of lands were lying in Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Ganjam district The temple administration would appoint retired government revenue officers in these districts to supervise the official process to take possession of the lands and sell them.
The temple administration has also decided to form a separate welfare fund for sevayats engaged in daily rituals in the Jagannath temple. "Poor and needy sevayats can avail of monetary assistance at the time of need. The administration will also take them to some of the famous temples in other parts of the country as part of exposure tours," he added.