Recently Tirumala Tirupati temple was a hot topic in social media after the news of TTD’s contribution to the Common Good Fund(CGF) of the Andhra Pradesh government being raised to Rs.50 crore gained importance. The YSRCP government has passed an ordinance amending the Andhra Pradesh Endowments Act to implement it. As the presence of the government in temples itself is questionable and illegal, the audacious move to rob TTD of its money has invited widespread anger from the devotees.
Jagan Reddy’s government had issued the ordinance on September 5, raising TTD’s contribution to the CGF from Rs.2.5 crore to Rs.50 crore. The New Indian Express reported it as “The richest temple administration in the country will have to cough up the amount”. The fund supposedly goes towards Archakas and Workers Fund (AWF) and Endowments Administrative Fund (EAF).
Apart from that it is to be used for development of low income temples under HRCE and the government plans to increase the amount by 10 percent every 5 years. As per TNIE report, the ordinance says, “TTD is earning crores of rupees annually through donations from devotees, offerings, sale of darshanam tickets, Arjitha sevas and other sources, but are paying just Rs 2.5 crore”.
As HRCE gobbles up Rs.10 crore from other eminent temples like Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple, Vijayawada Durga temple, etc, “inorder to maintain uniformity based on income” the government has come with this move. While on one hand claiming that TTD earns a lot, on the other hand the government through HRCE continues to hike prices of services offered in Tirumala.
In February, the Alipiri tollgate charges were hiked through an amendment. Alipiri is the entrance point of Tirumala hills. In November 2019, the accommodation fees for the lodges and rooms in Tirumala were doubled. The rooms at Rs.500 a day, affordable for middle class devotees were hiked to Rs.1000. In 2017, TTD suddenly hiked the price of additional laddus allowed for individuals and sold to organisations for religious rituals such as Srinivasa/Govinda kalyanams, Vaibhavotsavam.
It said that it was to compensate for the loss it faces by distributing laddu prasadam for free. For a “rich temple that earns a lot of money” as per the government, the need to “sell” prasadam sounds fallacious. TTD planned to increase the price again in 2019, but dropped the idea after it attracted negative remarks.
Last year TTD decided to dispose of 50 immovable properties. After severe opposition from Hindu organisations, the decision was put on hold. It is to be noted here that TTD chairman Subba Reddy is the maternal uncle of CM Jagan Mohan Reddy. Countless such actions went unquestioned in TDP rule too which came out when the former head pujari blew the whistle. Most atrocious of them all was a 1000 year old hall being demolished by an IAS officer.
TTD had also landed in soup for many other issues like placing crosses as part of decoration, TTD officer visiting church and refusing prasad, allowing evangelists to distribute tracts, etc. With the new ordinance to plunder more wealth from the temple, it has been proved beyond point that the secular state sees temples only as treasure chests.
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