The proposal of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams to construct a temple in 10 acres of land at Phanirangini village of Araku mandal in Vizianagaram district has come in for sharp criticism from environmentalists and pro-tribal groups.Retired IAS officer from Visakhapatnam E A S Sarma, in a letter to the Andhra Pradesh government on Sunday, asked it not to approve the proposal of the TTD as it violates the spirit of the Constitution.
Sarma wondered whether the senior civil servants in the Government had not rendered proper advice to the State Cabinet that such decisions violate the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) and also the secular spirit that underlies the Constitution.In this context, he referred to the landmark judgement dated 8-4-2013 delivered by the Supreme Court of India in the case of bauxite mining by Vedanta company in Odisha.
“The apex court has clearly laid down the authority of the tribal Gram Sabhas in areas notified under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution. No project can be initiated within the domain of a tribal Gram Sabha in a Scheduled Area without an adequate discussion on the same by the Gram Sabha and without its prior consent,” he pointed out.
Sarma opined that the State Cabinet had undoubtedly erred in taking a unilateral decision on allotment of land in favour of TTD for constructing a temple.“It has not only violated PESA but also committed contempt of the spirit underlying the apex court’s observations,” he stated, adding that the public lands anywhere, more particularly in Scheduled Areas, should be set apart for non-religious purposes.