Shankaracharyas irked over land allotment

A controversy has erupted here over land allotment in the Mela area for Maha Kumbh-2013. Representatives of four Shankaracharyas have alleged faulty land allotment on the part of the Mela administration on Saturday.

The Shankaracharyas of the four peeths (seats) Dwarika and Badrinath (both headed by Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati), Puri (headed by Swami Nischalananda Saraswati) and Shringeri (headed by Swami Bharati Teerth) wanted to have their camps in one block and had also written to the Mela administration in this regard.

However, as they began setting up their camps, they were accused of having "encroached upon" others' land. The land in question is located in Sector 10 of the Mela area, close to Shastri Bridge.

Incidentally, neither the Shankaracharyas nor those who allege encroachment has any formal land allotment letter from the Mela administration. The Mela administration remained tight-lipped, saying efforts were on to resolve the matter.

Holding a press conference along with representatives of Puri and Shringeri Shankaracharyas, Swami Avimukteshwaranand, disciple of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, said: "The Mela administration allowed us to go ahead with bhoomi pujan on December 14. Three days later, we were accused of "encroaching upon" others' land in certain sections of the media. This is an insult to our Gurus. We are now being asked to shift our camps elsewhere. What is the point in being given a place and then asked to move? We would be forced to leave if the matter is not resolved quickly."

The Swami said that during ardh-Kumbh at Haridwar in 2010, all the four Shankaracharyas were given land in one block. "We wanted the same here and had already sent a proposal in this regard. But no decision was taken," said Avimukteshwaranand.

Mela Officer, M P Mishra, told mediapersons: "We respect everybody and are trying to resolve the matter. I do not want to comment any more on the issue."

"The need for putting up all four Shankaracharyas in one block was felt because of the emergence of several saints laying claim to the title of Shankaracharya. We wanted to give a strong message that there were only four Shankaracharyas and all else were not the real Gurus," said the Swami.

Swami Harichaitanya Brahmchari, whose land had allegedly been encroached upon, said: "Neither we nor disciples of Shankaracharyas have any allotment letter. But to lay claim without any official intimation is wrong."

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