Hiremagalur temple priest gets notice to repay Rs 4.74 lakh excess salary, minister blames official

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CHIKKAMAGALUR, BENGALURU: The state government found itself in an embarrasing situation after it issued a notice to Kannada scholar and priest, Kannan, of Hiremagalur, withholding his remuneration and directing him to return Rs 4,74,000, claiming that the temple’s income was less. Reacting to the issue, Muzrai Minister Ramalinga Reddy blamed the local tahsildar for the mixup.

The notice asking the priest to return the excess amount paid.

Kannan, the chief priest at the Kalyana Kodandarama temple in Hiremagalur on the outskirts of Chikkamagalur, was served a notice asking him to return Rs 4,74,000 at the rate of Rs 4,500 per month for 10 years. The notice, issued by Chikkamagalur tahsildar Sumanth, also said that his remuneration has been stopped. Kannan was being paid a salary of Rs 7,500 per month and was asked to return Rs 4,500 per month for 10 years on the ground that the temple’s income was less.

Kannan is popular as a scholar and writer. Speaking to Public TV, he said, “The government is giving free power and other guarantees to the people. The temple gets power bills of Rs 2,000 every month and what have they done for the temple? Should it remain in darkness? How can a priest with a salary of Rs 7,500 pay Rs 2,000 towards power bills? Do they even know the cost of puja items? Don’t link a priest’s life to the income of a temple. Without a priest, a temple will fall into ruins. Temples preserve culture and traditions”.

Minister Ramalinga Reddy spoke to Kannan on the issue.

Reacting to the issue, Muzrai Minister Ramalinga Reddy told Public TV in Bengaluru, “Annually, the temples under the department are given tasdik funds. In 2013, this was Rs 24,000 and, instead of giving that amount, the tahsildar had given Rs 90,000 to that temple. It is the tahsildar’s mistake, not Kannan’s fault”, he said.

The minister said he will hold discussions with the department commissioner and added that the excess amount paid will be recovered from the tahsildar himself or it would be adjusted from existing funds. “This is the first such instance in the state. The tahsildar has been issued a notice from the deparment and explain how excess funds went to Kannan’s account”, he added.

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