This was much needed. With places of worship mushrooming all over the city and becoming nuisance to people driving on the roads, not to mention leading to communal issues, this should have been a long time coming.
No more random construction of places of worship. In a move to check mushrooming places of worship and its extensions, especially in rural areas, the government has decided that taking permission of district collectors will be mandatory henceforth. The government amended rules relating to Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Land Development (Layout and Building) Rules of 2002 to ensure multiple checks in this regard. Under the new rules, “No site shall be used for the construction of a building intended for public worship or religious purposes without the prior approval of the collector of the district.”
The collector may refuse such approval if, in his opinion, the use of the proposed site of constructing the building is likely to endanger public peace and order, after giving an opportunity to the applicant to show cause against such refusal. Panchayat Raj and rural development department commissioner K. Ram Gopal said the new rules were aimed to check proliferation of places of worship without permission and also to keep tab on such constructions in sensitive places.
“Earlier, permission for places of worship including temples, mosques and churches were given in a routine manner like building permissions by concerned authorities. Now in rural areas, even after grant of permission by the local authority, it has to be cleared by the respective district collector,” he said. The new rules come at time when Charminar-Bhagyalaxmi temple episode has come to a flash point due to the alleged “unauthorised” extension of the temple. The state government has been battling with the issue of proliferation of places of worship, particularly on busy streets and other public places, causing traffic snarls and kicking up communal tension.
C. R. Biswal, principal secretary, Panchayat Raj and rural development, issued orders amending the Act and adding the new proviso. Hyderabad has 647 religious structures on footpaths and roadsides, 25 structures having potential to create law and order problem. The Supreme Court had, two years ago, asked all the states to furnish details of such religious structures.