Mar 12, 2017

Fine slapped on Sai Baba Trust in Shirdi over payment default

Shoumojit Banerjee
The Hindu
MARCH 13, 2017

Revenue dues on a portion of land date back to British Raj

The Revenue department has slapped a whopping ₹4 crore as fine on the Shri Saibaba Sansthan (Trust) for allegedly defaulting on revenue dues on a portion of land dating back to the British Raj.

Speaking to The Hindu, Shirdi Sub-Divisional Officer Kundan Sonawane said that the disputed land of 27 gunthas (less than one acre) was acquired by some of the devotees on rent near the temple complex premises during colonial times.

While the land belonged to the State, the devotees either gave it away to the trust or sold it off a few years after Sai Baba died in 1918.

Put on notice

Speaking to The Hindu, Shirdi Sub-Divisional Officer Kundan Sonawane confirmed that his office had sent a notice to the Saibaba Sansthan Trust.

“A few years after Sai Baba’s ‘Mahasamadhi’ in 1918, these devotees either donated or sold it (the land) off without due permission from the State. The land in question encompasses the iconic Dikshit wada, the Lendi Baug [the garden created and watered by Sai Baba himself] and the museum. So, we have sent the notice to the Sai Baba trust to legalise the possession of this land by paying back the revenue due to the government,” Mr. Sonawane said.

He informed that the nebulous ownership of the disputed land was unearthed by local journalist Pramod Aher while the latter was researching his book Shirdi Gazeteer: untold stories. Mr. Aher then brought the matter to the attention of Revenue department authorities.

Mr. Sonawane further said that if the Trust failed to clarify the matter within a week, a legal probe would be initiated into the affair.

Officials at the trust could not be reached for comment.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/fine-slapped-on-sai-baba-trust-in-shirdi-over-payment-default/article17453452.ece
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