The Telangana government on Friday announced that priests at Hindu temples in the state will be paid salaries at par with government employees while 'imams' and muezzins at mosques will be paid Rs 5,000 each.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced that the salaries will be paid from the treasury with effect from September 1.
As and when pay revision is implemented for government employees, the same will be made applicable to the 'archakas' also.
'Archakas' perform 'pooja' at Hindu temples and come under the Endowment Department purview. Rao said that their retirement age will be 65 instead of 58 at present.
The Chief Minister said that 'imams' and muezzins too will get Rs 5,000 monthly remuneration from September 1, benefiting nearly 9,000 of them. The Telangana government was earlier paying Rs 1,000 per month to them, which was later increased to Rs 1,500.
In September last year, KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, declared that to supervise and monitor temple related issues, a Dharmika Parishad will be formed.
He said after independence, temples were neglected and the injustice was glaring in Telangana under united Andhra Pradesh, adding that Yadadri, Vemulawada, Bhadradri and other temples would be developed in a planned manner.
The Chief Minister also assured archakas that the Dhoop Deep and Naivedyam programme, being implemented in 1,805 temples, will be extended to another 3000 temples in the state. The government has increased the monthly funds given to each temple for the programme from Rs 2,500 to Rs 6,000.
At the time, KCR also quoted statistics stating that there were about 83,000 acres under the temples and the government would take special action to protect these lands.
Meanwhile, in the latest development, the Chief Minister also announced that free electricity up to 101 units per month will be supplied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for domestic consumption, up from 50 units at present.