Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Friday announced that 'archakas' (priests) and employees of temples will be paid salaries on par with the government employees.
They will be given the state government's pay scales from November, the Chief Minister said a meeting of priests, who had come from all over the state.
Archakas and other temple employees numbering about 5,625 will get their salaries on first of every month like any other government employee, he said.
He hoped that the move will help archakas who were finding it difficult to eke out a living. "Such is the pitiable condition that parents are not giving their daughters in marriage to those working as archakas," he said.
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.
He said Yadadri, Vemulawada, Bhadradri and other temples would be developed in a planned manner.
The Dhoop Deep, 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.
Stating that temple lands have gone to the wrong persons, he said statistics show that there are about 83,000 acres under the temples and the government will take special action to protect these lands. He urged archakas to concentrate more on the temple administration and other divine duties.
KCR said for the welfare of Brahmins, the government formed Brahmin Welfare Parishad with Rs 100 crore fund.