Hyderabad, Dec 15 (UNI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today said his government had initiated several measures to improve the economic condition of temple priests in the state.
Addressing the gathering at the Priests and other Temple Employees welfare meeting organised by the Endowments Department here, he said the state government had given special recognition to the temple priests and solved their problems, as promised in the election manifesto.
He said the state government had initiated several welfare schemes for the priests during the last three and a half years and constituted 'Dharmika Parishad' to solve their problems. The state government had recognised the services of temple priests who played a big role in protecting the 'Hindu dharma' and Hindu heritage.
Alleging that the earlier TDP government had not taken any steps to solve the problems of priests, the Chief Minister said his government had fulfilled the promises made during the elections to look into their problems.
He said the government had decided to provide Rs 2500 to priests -- Rs 1500 as their honorarium and Rs 1000 for 'daily poojas' -- in 2000 remote temples in the state. The scheme would be implemented in other temples in the state soon.
Dr Reddy said the state government had also decided to provide Rs 500 as oldage pension to the priests who retired after serving for 65 years. With a view to provide houses to temple priests, the government would provide Rs 80,000 -- Rs 50,000 from the Endowments department with three per cent interest rate and Rs 30,000 from Indiramma Scheme for construction of houses.
He said the government had taken up 'Divya Bhoomi' programme to provide necessary information through the website to Non Resident Indians (NRIs) who desire to develop the temples in their own villages.
State Endowments Minister J Ratnakara Rao said the state government was committed to the welfare of temple priests and decided to renovate temples in the state at a cost of Rs 250 crore.