Tuesday, 26 September 2006

AP government thrives on the income of religious endowments

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 26: The State government seems to thrive on the income of religious endowments if official statistics are any indication.
The government has been simply knocking off a part of the income it gets from religious places, particularly temples, and diverting the funds for other uses. Though the endowment fund is meant for the upkeep of temples with no income sources, the contribution received towards the fund is rarely used for the purpose.
Every Hindu charitable or religious institution or endowment or Dharmadayam whose annual income is not less than Rs 5000 has to contribute 15 per cent of the income to the Endowments Administration Fund. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams is exempted from paying the fund.
An analysis of receipts and expenditure of the Endowments Administration Fund should the government had utilised the money fully for the purpose it was meant only in 1995-96. But during the last 10 years the government never exhausted the money for the development of temples without any income sources.
The State has 33,871 institutions covered under the Endowments Act and of them a whopping 25,000 institutions do not either own any land or own very negligible extent deriving less than Rs 1000 per year. About 500 institutions own substantial extent of land ranging from 10 acres to 1000 acres.
The government has also created a common good fund for institutions whose annual income exceeds Rs 50,000. They have to contribute three per cent of the assessable income. The TTD contributes Rs 2.20 crore every year towards the fund.
In case of mosques and churches, the State government is extending financial assistance through the State Wakf Board and the minorities welfare department respectively. The budget allocated for repairs and construction of mosques is Rs 6.50 crore and for churches it is Rs 1.10 crore. The Wakf Board receives Rs 1.10 crore from 35,000 Wakf institutions every year through seven per cent contribution to the Fund.
In case of Wakf institutions, about 90 per cent of the Wakf bodies do not have proper assessment of the income.

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