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Shirdi asked to pay for President visit

Trustees of Shirdi’s Saibaba temple have received a letter from the state stating that the Trust “share the expenses” of the VIP visit.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2007 02:54 IST
Satyajit Joshi

Trustees of Shirdi’s Saibaba temple, who hosted President Pratibha Patil when she visited last month, have received a letter from the state stating that the Trust “share the expenses” of the VIP visit.

The state — which spent nearly Rs 93 lakh to develop a helipad, repair and rebuild roads and book several rooms at the religious town before Pratibhatai and her family visited on November 27 — is responsible for the expenses incurred on/during visits by VIPs or state guests like the President, according to administration officials.

In this case, Ahmednagar district Collector Dr P Anbalgam, was in charge of the President’s visit.

The Public Works Department sent a letter to Shri Saibaba Sansthan, the trust that manages the Saibaba temple, in the first week of December stating that they share the expenses of the President’s visit. Dr Anbalgam told HT that he too had received the Department’s letter stating expenses on resurfacing of the roads.

“We have called a trustees’ meeting next week when a decision will be taken,” said Jayant Sasane, chairperson of Shri Saibaba Sansthan. Sasane is also a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Ahmednagar’s Shrirampur constituency.

Dr Anbalgam said that road resurfaced by the department is the Sansthan’s private property and that the Trust had expressed its willingness to share the expenses.

“I am in touch with the trustees and there is no controversy,” he said. “There seems to be some communication gap. I will look into it.”

Sasane said the Trust is willing to share the burden of development but the issue at hand has confused officials as the area that was developed is around the temple. “As a trust, we are willing to develop Shirdi if some development is taking place, why should we have any objection?” said Sasane.

The Shri Saibaba Sansthan is one of wealthiest temple trusts in the country with an annual average income of over Rs 200 crore.