Kerala's Devaswom Minister K. Radhakrishnan informed the Kerala Assembly last week that more than Thirty Thousand Acres of land belonging to the Malabar Devaswom Board, the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Koodalmanikyam Devaswom Board has been lost to encroachers in the state.
Recently, the Madras High Court had held that encroachment of Temple land is a crime against the society at large and that the protection of property belonging to the Temples is the constitutional duty of the Courts.
As per the answers given by the Minister to questions raised on the floor of the assembly, 494 Acres of land under the Travancore Devaswom Board has been found to be illegally encroached upon. The Minister also said that based on the survey done in the year 2007 in 1123 temples under the Malabar Devsawom Board, 24693.4 Acres of land has been found to be lost to encroachment.
The Minister also that the "Board (Malabar Devaswom Board) does not have any mechanism to do a survey to find out encroachment and eviction of encroachers". The survey done in the year 2007 was done by a special team appointed by the government.
As per the Minister, as far as the Cochin Devaswom Board is concerned, which has under its control more than 400 temples in the state, the Board is yet to ascertain the extent of encroachment of temple land.
The Minister also said that more than 5568 Acres of land belonging to the Koodalmanikyam Devaswom Board, which governs the Koodalmanikyam Temple in Thrissur District, has been lost to encroachment.
The Kerala government manages around 3000 Hindu Temples in the state through five Devaswom Boards constituted by it.