September 19, 2016
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today announced a number of measures for the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE), including doubling the pension for retired temple staff and a Rs.5 crore scheme to improve the earnings of artistes associated with temple maintenance.
The Chief Minister, in a statement, said that retired employees of the temples being administered by the HR and CE department, are currently being given a pension of Rs.1,000 per month. She said that the amount is being increased to Rs.2000 per month, ‘following an appeal made by the pensioners.’ About 3700 pensioners will benefit from this pension revision, at an additional annual expenditure of Rs.4.4 crores to the government.
Pointing out that temples have, for centuries, been supporting craftsmen and artisans of various kinds including stone and metal sculptors, Sthapathis, carpenters, ironsmiths, construction experts, weavers, priests, musicians, dancers, flower and Pooja item vendors, and folk artistes. In a span of years, these people did not get adequate support from the temples and their skills are now at the risk of disappearing forever, she said and added that in a bid to revive these skills and expand the scope of livelihood, she has ‘ordered implementation of a package, at a cost of Rs.5 crores.’
She ordered the preparation and maintenance of database of the invaluable idols, lands, and other immovable properties owned by the temples. Global Information System (GIS) will soon be introduced for easy identification of temple lands in maps, she said. Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) the lands will be properly measured and documented, she added.
Jayalalithaa also announced further improvements in the online booking services, like Pooja tickets, and donations for Annadhaanam. Plans are afoot to introduce Enterprise Resource Planning in temple administration.