A special pooja will be offered at all temples in Karnataka that come under the Muzrai department on Vijayadashami, against the spread of COVID-19 and for the control of a possible third wave, Minister for Muzrai, Haj & Wakf, Shashikala Jolle said here on Tuesday.Also Read - International Flights: Air India Increases Flight Frequency Between Delhi, Chicago From Nov 3, Opens Booking

Vijayadashami, the last day of the ongoing Dasara festivities, will be celebrated on October 15. Also Read - Newly Constructed 7-Floor Police Quarter Building in Bengaluru Tilts Due to Wide Crack

“As we celebrate the victory of good over evil on Vijayadashami, it has been decided to pray to goddess Chamundeshwari on behalf of the department, for the safety of our people from COVID-19 and its ill effects, end of the pandemic, and for control of the the possible third wave, which according to experts is likely to affect children the most,” Jolle said. Also Read - Ban on Sale, Use of Firecrackers: How These States Take Strict Measures to Bring Air Pollution Under Control

Speaking to reporters here, she said for the good health and prosperity of the people of the state, especially the children, on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami, a special pooja will be organised at Muzrai temples across the state.

“Karnataka Rajya Dharmika Parishat will be issuing guidelines to all the temples under the endowment department, regarding the special pooja to be offered,” she added.

A total of 34,563 temples in the state come under the department that have been categorized as grade A, B and C, based on their revenue generation.

A total of 207 temples with annual revenue above Rs 25 lakh come under category A, 139 temples between Rs five lakh to Rs 25 lakh come under category B, and 34,217 temples with less than Rs 5 lakh annual revenue under category C.

Jolle said it has been decided to implement salary as per the sixth pay commission to select Muzrai temple priests and staff, who are currently drawing salary as per the fifth commission.

Noting that currently 1,034 priests and staff are currently getting salary under the fifth pay commission, she said that implementation of the sixth pay commission will not have extra financial burden on the government, as up to 35 per cent of the revenue from the A and B category temples will be utilised for this purpose.

“The new salary implementation is only for those A and B category temples, whose revenue generation is good and where fifth pay commission is already implemented. It is not for C grade temples, whose financial condition is not good and needs improvement…..what needs to be done to improve conditions at C category temples is being worked out, also staff there, are mostly not permanent,” she added.

There are about 3,918 staff and 31,701 priests working at temples under the Muzarai department.

Among priests 2,000 come under grade A , 800 under B and 28,901 under C category.

Also an insurance programme is being introduced for priests and employees working at Muzrai temples, Jolle said, as the first step the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana will be extended to them by filing an annual premium of Rs 330, which may cost Rs 1.22 crore to the government, and the Chief Minister has agreed to it.