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Over 5,000 Illegal Religious Shrines to be Demolished in Karnataka

In September 2009, the Supreme Court had directed all State governments to ensure that no unauthorized religious structures come up in public places. The Supreme Court directed them to identify those religious shrines which have been illegally constructed and already exist at unauthorized places. The directive also emphasized upon the respective state governments to stop such illegal constructions of religious shrines in future.

The Karnataka State Government had submitted to the Supreme Court that it would implement the identification of illegal shrines and take necessary action before December 31, 2010. The state government also submitted figures of such illegal structures to the Supreme Court. In Karnataka state there are about 5,300 illegal shrines. These included Temples, Churches, and Gurudwaras. They are illegally constructed on public places such as vacant land, parks, roads, streets, corners, and circles.

Bangalore Rural district tops the list of unauthorized shrines with 1,269 including, 1,213 temples, 55 mosques, 17 churches, four Gurudwaras, and 44 mixed structures where construction is underway. Dakshina Kannada district has 833 illegal shrines, including 640 temples, 151 mosques, 32 churches, 10 Gurudwaras. Bangalore City has 575 illegal shrines, including 442 temples, 95 churches, and 38 mosques.

Collectively the figures for Karnataka are as follows:
About 4,500 unauthorized temples, 500 unauthorized mosques, 200 unauthorized churches, and 14 unauthorized Gurudwaras. Ramanagaram district has three illegal temples, no illegal mosque, and no illegal church. Chikmagalur has three illegal shrines: a temple, a church, and a mosque.

Government officials at Deputy Commissioner level in all districts are engaged in dialogue with leaders of various communities to peacefully complete the process of demolition or relocation. A state government official said: “All illegal shrines obstructing the roads will be demolished while the others will be considered for relocation and regularization if possible.”

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