Govt in overdrive to take over temples

The state government took over the control of nearly 28 temples last year of which 23 are in Bhavnagar district alone. It now controls over 244 major temples including the revenue-earning ones like Somnath, Dwarka and Ambaji, according to a reply by Tourism Minister Jay Narayan Vyas to a question by Congress MLA Kiran Makwana in the Monsoon Session of the state Assembly.

Administration of these temples are now in the hands of government appointees instead of private trustees.

Vyas stated that the state government, till January 2012, had administrative control over 244 major temples in 16 districts, which were now being managed by government-appointed administrators.

As per official records, Vadodara district has the highest number of temples (82) which are controlled and administered by the government. Following Vadodara are Narmada district (47) and Kutch (27).

In 2011, the state government also took control of the famous Becharaji temple in Mehsana district from where Chief Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his Swami Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra early this month. The rest of the temples taken over last year are in Anand district.

The state government at present controls 13 temples in Gandhinagar district, 13 in Valsad district, eight in Rajkot district, 16 in Porbandar district, four of Surat district and one temple each in Junagadh, Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Mehsana and Banaskantha districts. Of these, Somnath, Dwarka and Ambaji temples alone reported annual revenues totalling nearly Rs 34 crore in 2011-12.

As per official figures of the state tourism department, the annual income of the famous temple of Dwarka in Jamnagar district in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 was Rs 3.86 crore, Rs 4.23 crore and Rs 4.97 crore, respectively. Ambaji temple in Banasakantha district, where Modi celebrated his birthday this year, saw its revenue steadily increase from Rs 9.46 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 20 crore in 2011-12. Somnath in Junagadh district reported revenues of Rs 8.40 crore in 2008-09, Rs 12.52 crore in 2010-11 and approximately Rs 8.14 crore in 2011-12.

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