Presenting the state budget 2022-23 in the legislative assembly on Friday, March 4, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Bommai who also holds the Finance portfolio has proposed removing government control over temples in the state by granting autonomy to those under the Endowment Department. Until now, the rules required the temple managements to seek permission from the govt to utilise their income for development purposes.
Today, while presenting his maiden budget, the Karnataka CM said, “There is a long pending demand to do away with the government control on the temples. By considering these demands of devotees, autonomy will be given to temples coming under the purview of the Endowment Department. Necessary legal action will be taken to delegate the discretion of developmental works to the temples,” said Bommai.
The demand to remove Hindu temples from government control has grown over the years, and this decision can be seen as a success for that movement in at least one crucial state.
Notably, the Muzrai (Endowment) department oversees 34,563 temples in the state, which have been classified as grades A, B, or C based on their revenue generation. A total of 207 temples with yearly revenue exceeding Rs 25 lakh fall into category A, 139 temples with annual revenue between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh fall into category B, and 34,217 temples with annual revenue less than Rs 5 lakh go into category C.
Bommai further announced that compensation for government-owned land will be increased from Rs 48,000 to Rs 60,000 to assist Archakaru, Agamikaru (priests), and endowment temple personnel.
He also stated that the ‘Integrated Temple Management System’ software would be used to enable internet access to the temple’s many services. The government will grant a subsidy of Rs 5,000 per person to 30,000 pilgrims undertaking the ‘Kaashi Yatre’ from Karnataka, according to the Chief Minister. The ‘Pavitra Yatra’ scheme will be launched by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation to make pilgrimage tours more affordable (KSTDC).
Karnataka CM announced govt would bring bill to free temples from govt control before the budget session of the assembly
Pertinently, Bommai had first mentioned bringing up a law aimed at ‘freeing’ Hindu temples from state control while speaking to the BJP state executive meeting in December last year. “Before the Budget session a law would be given shape to make our temples free from restrictions. The temples will be allowed to function freely, without any control or regulations from the state,” he had said.
The announcement had come days after the state Legislative Assembly passed the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021”, commonly referred to as the anti-conversion Bill.