The temple, located near the Kolli Sarada market, was removed as part of road widening works and authorities say temple officials had been informed of the same.

Temple demolition in Andhras Guntur triggers row officials defend move
news Controversy Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 15:29

Guntur town in Andhra Pradesh witnessed mild tension earlier this week, as the Guntur Municipal Corporation (GMC) went ahead with its plans and demolished a Kanaka Durga temple located near the Kolli Sarada market, amidst protests from locals. 

The temple was removed as part of road widening works for the construction of a road leading to Nandivelugu in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.

The demolition of the temple led to a controversy, with locals claiming that the GMC had not given them prior notice or sufficient time before razing the 30-year-old structure to ground. They also claimed that their pleas asking for more time to relocate were rejected.

A video from the demolition site shows a woman complaining that the authorities have not been responsive to their pleas for more time to relocate. “We asked for time till next afternoon (Saturday), they didn't give us time to even remove things. They said, ‘We have given you an alternate space, isn’t that enough?’... What right do they have to remove the temple?”

Officials say permission was taken

Refuting the allegation, the  GMC stated that a committee, which was overseeing the affairs of the temple, had been given ample time for relocation, and that the demolition was carried out following negotiations with the temple authorities for more than a year.

According to GMC City Planner V Suneeta, the temple committee had been asked to relocate several times so that demolition work can begin. Since they allegedly did not receive any favourable response, the demolition was carried out on Thursday. Speaking to TNM, Suneeta said, “We have already provided an alternate land nearby, and construction (of the temple) work has also begun. How would that happen if they hadn’t been notified?” The temple is being built by funds from the committee.

The officials also claimed that the temple had encroached upon the road as the temple committee did not possess the land title (a document that proves the ownership of a tract of land or immovable property).

Visuals trigger online row

The controversy has now also taken a communal tone, as the images and videos that have surfaced online show broken pieces of deities among the debris.

Blaming the YSRCP government for its double standards, BJP leader Lanka Dinakar claimed that while assistance for Jerusalem pilgrims had been increased, Hindu temples were being ignored.

As the visuals triggered a major row, members of the temple committee met with GMC commissioner C Anuradha on Friday and submitted a representation that the demolition was carried out with their consent, and appealed to the public not to fall prey to misleading posts on social media.

Speaking to a local media outlet, a priest from the temple however said, "There were talks held with the temple committee and the authorities, but the way in which the temple was demolished is unfair."

"Whatever said and done, officials should have allowed us to remove the deity and install it in the new place before going ahead with demolition. We would not have minded. We are not against development," he added. 

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.