Fear grips villagers after Ramappa temple gets World Heritage tag

There are orders for alienation of 20 guntas land near temple, says official

The happiness of higher footfalls at their shops has given way to fear, misgivings and rumour mongering in Palampet village in Mulug. Days after the Ramappa Temple was inscribed as a World Heritage Site, villagers who own shops near the area are a worried lot. “I have grown up here. This is our village, our shop, why should we leave? We have been here from the time very few people used to visit the temple,” says Ravali, who owns a shop-cum-restaurant near the famed temple.

“There are orders for alienation of 20 guntas land near the Shiva temple. Except that, there are no other instructions about land acquisition. Land acquisition will happen only after specific orders are issued,” said a revenue official of the district. “The district officials have made it clear to the shop owners that if they are evicted, they will be resettled,” informed the official.

The State government has promised to create a Palampet Special Development Authority so that regulated zone, buffer zone and other zoning regulations can be put in place for the heritage site in a streamlined manner. One of the caveats for inclusion of Ramappa Temple as a World Heritage Site is that the government has been asked to “ensure the constitution and functioning of ‘Palampet Special Area Development Authority’ in order to provide effective management and adequate protection to the buffer zone and all supporting Kakatiya period attributes”.

A majority of villagers in Palampet depend on agricultural activities for their livelihood and a few families eke out a living from the shops that line the temple street. “People come here for picnics. They hire these vessels and then take them to the lake where they cook, eat and return them in the evening. We have visitors from Warangal and even Hyderabad on Sundays and holidays,” says Shweta, who runs a shop-cum-vessel-rental business in the area.

As Ramappa Temple becomes the lodestar for tourist attraction, it remains to be seen how the community gets integrated with the project. The world body has asked the state to “undertake capacity building for local community and the temple priest so that they have the necessary skills to contribute to the management of the site”.

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