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Tirupati temple’s revenue dips in 2017, board blames demonetisation

The cash collection of the temple dropped by over Rs 50 crore despite an increase in the footfall of pilgrims.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2018 22:48 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Demonetisation,Venkateswara temple,Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams
Former President Pranab Mukherjee is seen offering prayer at golden sanctum sanctorums of Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala in Tirupati. (PTI File Photo )

The world’s richest Hindu shrine has been hit hard by demonetisation, says the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages Lord Venkateswara temple in Andhra Pradesh.

The cash-rich temple recorded a revenue fall of Rs 50 crore in 2017 as compared to previous year despite an increase in the footfall of pilgrims.

The legend is that the cash offered by the devotees at the temple located atop Tirumala hills is being used by Lord Venkateswara to pay interest to the loan he had taken from Kubera, the god of wealth.

The money is collected in a hundi, a cylinder shaped cash chest placed on the northern side of the inner temple complex.

As per TTD records, the number of visitors in 2017 increased by about 7,00,000 from 26 million recorded in 2016. But it did not get reflected in the cash flow. The cash collection dipped by 50.39 crore to Rs 995.89 crore in 2017.

TTD executive director Anil Kumar Singhal attributed the revenue fall to demonetisation, pointing out that the temple received Rs 26 crore worth banned notes in early part of 2017.

The Union government demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes on November 8 2016 and gave time till March 31, 2017 to deposit the scrapped bills in banks. The TTD received most of the banned notes after the expiry of the deadline.

“For a few months after demonetisation, pilgrims continued to drop the banned currency in the hundi, which later turned out to be useless,” Singhal said.

There was also a huge cash crunch across the country in the first few months of 2017 due to restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks and ATMs and that too contributed to the revenue fall, the temple authorities say.

“This ( cash crunch) might have also resulted in the drop in the hundi collections during the year,” Singhal said.

Singhal said there was, however, an increase in electronic transfer of funds called e-hundi. “These (e-hundi) earnings went from Rs 10.53 crore in 2016 to Rs 15.36 crore in 2017,” he said.

The TTD had approached the RBI for the exchange of the demonetised currency it received, but the apex bank rejected the request as the deadline for exchanging the banned currency was over.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 20:17 IST