Renowned Melkote Sanskrit Academy in limbo

Renowned Melkote Sanskrit Academy in limbo

Once hailed for its scholarship, the Academy of Sanskrit Research in Melkote, Mandya district, is now staring at an uncertain future as the Mandya district administration has ordered its eviction for “illegal” occupation.

The academy, which is already plagued by allegations of irregularities in recruitment of staffers, was found to have been functioning on government land beyond the lease period.

The academy was set up in 1978 by the state government to promote research in Indian philosophy, especially Oriental and Vedantic systems. In 1980, the Academy was given eight acres of land belonging to the historic Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple. The 20-year lease period ended in 2000.

“The Academy continued illegally without renewing the lease occupying the land and without paying rent to the temple, causing financial losses to the temple,” Mandya Deputy Commissioner Manjushree N has written to the Department of Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments, seeking the academy’s eviction.

The move to seek the Academy’s eviction is based on a report by the Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple administration that recommended against renewing the lease.

The temple has said the Academy’s land can be used to develop pilgrimage facilities such as dining hall, accommodation, luggage rooms, toilets, bathhouses, vehicle parking and so on since it attracts visitors from all over the country.

During its alleged “illegal” occupation, the Academy was in 2016 formally handed over to the Bengaluru-based Karnataka Sanskrit University (KSU).

In 2017, KSU Vice Chancellor Padma Shekar constituted a committee under retired bureaucrat U B Ulavi to look into allegations of irregularities in recruitment. Between July 1980 and June 2012, the Academy hired 44 personnel, of whom the committee found that only 10 were recruited as per norms.

“The rest were taken without inviting applications publicly by the society that ran the Academy,” Shekar said. “I’m awaiting clarity from the government on what needs to be done, specifically on confirmation of those recruited,” she added.

The university and the Academy had been seeking renewal of the lease for the past three years, Shekar said.

There is a plan to shift the Academy to a 100-acre land the government has allocated to the KSU in Magadi.

“But this is unlikely to happy anytime soon, because we are yet to provide the required infrastructure on the 100-acre land. For that to happen, the university has to become eligible to receive Central grants, whose criteria we’re trying to fulfil by building some infrastructure at the Chamarajpet premises where we are currently located,” she explained.

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