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28 Feb 2024, Edition - 3151, Wednesday

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Jayalalithaa’s ‘temple annadhanam scheme’ a gift to the needy

U Bharath


Late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa left a mark in several fields and touched thousands of people, and the Tamil Nadu Temple Annadanam scheme (free meal scheme), one of her flagship projects is one such that made a big difference to the unprivileged old, meek and aged.

“People in the marginalised sections of society are highly benefited from this innovative scheme, which is currently extended to 724 temples thanks to Amma’s munificence,” said a senior Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department official.

Jayalalithaa inaugurated the scheme in March 2002 in Chennai’s Kapaleeshwarar temple and in the first phase itself, the initiative was implemented in 63 temples and later extended to 360 temples in seven phases.

While usually it is mandatory to provide an id proof to benefit from welfare schemes, this particular one does not insist on it. “Thanks to the generous patronage from donors and devotees, the scheme runs successfully and a square meal is served every day of the year without a hitch. Annadanam hundi collections placed in temples also help further the cause. A corpus fund of Rs 20 crore dedicated to this scheme and the interest accrued is divided among all temples to run the scheme,” said M Karthick, Executive Officer of Pateeshwarar temple, at Perur, where 100 people are given annadhanam.

“The scheme is being implemented in 20 temples in Coimbatore, which is next only to Chennai with the scheme in 26 temples. The initiative received a boost after Amma returned to power as Chief Minister in 2011, and then it was extended to 724 temples all over the state,” said the HR&CE official.

“If MGR is remembered for the nutritious meal scheme, Amma will be remembered for the temple annadhanam scheme. But for the scheme, many destitute and aged people from poor families might have taken to begging or even at death’s door from starvation. The scheme is successfully run in Marudamalai, Kottai Sangameswarar, Avinashi Shiva and Pateeshwarar temples,” said Rajesh Govindaraj, a benefactor of the scheme.

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