Panel moots upping security for Tirupati jewels

Hyderabad, June 18 (Calcutta Tube) Former Supreme Court judge M. Jagannadha Rao has recommended several measures for strengthening security of the jewellery and valuables of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the trust that oversees the operations and finances of the richest and the most visited religious centre in the world at Tirupati.

The one-member commission, which was formed in 2008 after 300 ‘gold dollars’ of TTD were found missing, submitted its report to the Andhra Pradesh government recently.

The state cabinet, which met Friday, approved all recommendations except those in respect of probable cause and circumstances which led to the shortage of gold dollars.

The government entrusted the case of missing ‘dollars’ to a separate commission and the enquiry was under progress, said Minister for Information and Public Relations J. Geeta Reddy.

The report recommended that whenever the currency boxes are taken out of Srivari (Venkateshwara) temple, entries should be made at ‘padikavali’ register.

About the foreign currency received from ‘Hundi’, it suggested that the banks send a statement to the financial officer and the chief accounts officer, TTD.

Rao recommended that TTD consult security departments and police authorities for ensuring security for transport of gold ornaments, gold articles and copper on gold which are being sent by the treasury to Tirupati to the Mint at Mumbai and re-transport of gold bars, ‘dollars’ and ‘Mangalasutrams’ from Mint to Tirupati.

The commission also recommended that the other articles received from ‘Hundi’ like pure gold, FMG and 24 Ct., stones gold and stones be auctioned once in a year as these items are remaining as dead capital in TTD strong room at Tirupati. It called for using the sale proceeds to purchase gold bars and suggested that the same be deposited in nationalised banks to earn interest.

Rao recommended that the TTD empanel appraisers and gemologists for appraisal and evaluating nature and quality of these items.

The former chairman of Law Commission of India suggested creation of new jewellery verification department for annual physical verification of the jewellery.

The Andhra Bank’s Tirumala branch, where ‘gold dollars’ are sold, should send daily and monthly statements to TTD, the report said and called for introducing a queue system at sales counter and providing adequate security.

TTD sells ‘gold dollars’ to the pilgrims. Each gold medallion, called gold dollar in the TTD parlance, weighs five grams and is considered auspicious.

TTD runs the affairs of a dozen temples including Venkateshwara temple, world’s richest temple located on Tirumala hills.

There are allegations that TTD jewellery estimated to be worth over Rs.500 billion was being misappropriated and there is no accountability.

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