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Srirangam Temple opposes Tiruchi Corporation’s decision to reinitiate toll charges

Civic body auction notification is illegal and contrary to the interest of pilgrims

Civic body auction notification is illegal and contrary to the interest of pilgrims

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam strongly opposed the decision of Tiruchi Corporation to reintroduce toll charges for private and tourist vehicles entering Srirangam.

The Society ended this practice in April 2019, which was a great relief for pilgrims harassed by toll collectors employed by private contractors.

After a three-year hiatus, the Corporation has decided to reintroduce the entrance fee on vehicles entering the temple city through all of its entrances. It issued a tender requesting bidders to submit tender documents. According to the notification, the auction will take place on March 22 and the successful bidder will be entitled to collect registration fees for three years from April 1.

But the administration of the Srirangam temple vehemently opposed this decision. Calling the move “illegal”, S. Marimuthu, co-commissioner of the temple, said most places and several roads, including South Uthira Street and North Uthira Street, in Srirangam belong to the temple.

The role of the Tiruchi Corporation was only to maintain the roads and it had no right to collect entrance fees from pilgrims arriving by vehicle, he said in an official letter to PMN Mujibur Rahuman, commissioner of the Tiruchi Corporation.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, in a 2009 order, had prevented Tiruchi Corporation from collecting entrance fees from buses and tourist vans on South Uthara Street. The petition against the order was still pending in the High Court, Mr Marimuthu said, adding that the temple receives a large number of pilgrims across the country throughout the year.

Private vehicles visiting Srirangam from other places invariably transported pilgrims to the temple. There was no other business for them to visit Srirangam than to offer prayers to Sri Ranganathaswamy, the presiding deity of the temple. The current practice of allowing vehicles without collecting toll fees has won goodwill not only for the Srirangam Temple but also for the Hindu Religious and Charitable Foundation and the state government, the co-commissioner asserted.

The notice of the Corporation’s auction was illegal and contrary to the interest of the pilgrims. This would not only cause difficulties for pilgrims, but also bring disrespect to the temple. If toll fees were collected from vehicles, it would create a false impression among pilgrims, devotees and tourists that the temple administration was collecting toll fees. Accordingly, the Company should rescind the tender notice.

Mr. Marimuthu also sent a copy of the letter to the Commissioner, HR&CE, and the Tiruchi Collector.