பக்தியை வளர்க்க வேண்டிய திருப்பதி தேவஸ்தானம் இலஞ்சத்தை வளர்க்கிறது. இந்திய அரசும். ஆந்திர அரசும் தேவஸ்தானத்தின் நடவடிக்கைகளை கட்டுப்படுத்த வேண்டும்.
The Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams (TTD) not only manages one of the most revered temples in India but is also the richest temple board in the country. With a mammoth Rs 2,000-crore annual budget, 10,000 staffers in 98 wings, it is not surprising therefore that the menace of corruption has seeped into its system.
“It’s a mini state in itself, giving rise to corruption at every level,” says a senior temple official. Right from the time a pilgrim gets down at Tirupati to catch a bus to the Tirumala hills for a darshan, has his head tonsured, obtains an appointment with the joint executive officer for accommodation, buys laddu prasadam, he has to grease the palms of employees and agents.
Corruption has became a norm, ‘1+1’ has become the code word to get things done. By this, a pilgrim has to pay double of what he is entitled for a service. Madhava Reddy, an onion trader from Hindupur, had the bitter experience of shelling out Rs 5,000 to a tout recently. “Though an AC room costs Rs 1,500, I had to spend Rs 5,000 since they took Rs 1,500 as commission towards accommodation (under 1+1 scheme) and Rs 2,000 more for darshan and prasadam,” he said. Reddy says that he had to depend on the agents because the other option was to run from pillar to post to get recommendation letters for darshan/accommodation from a top official or an MLA.
“Its institutionalized corruption as an artificial demand is created by the staff in cahoots with brokers,” points out a former executive officer of TTD.
At Kalyanakatta, where pilgrims offer their hair in fulfilment of their vows, tonsuring service is free or one can take Rs 10 tokens. But here there is no 1+ 1, it is worse. Every barber takes Rs 50-100 from each pilgrim. There are over 500 barbers. The union president of barber association, was caught handing over the day’s moolah to the superintendent on a close circuit camera last year. The official was suspended but later reinstated. Insiders say that after that episode whenever barbers take money, they look straight into the cameras to avoid detection.
Then, there are TTD publications counters at various places atop the hill, which are always under lock and key. If pilgrims want to buy books, they have to walk 5 km from the main temple. “Thousands of books are printed at the TTD printing press. There is unaccounted corruption to the tune of Rs 150 crore in this wing alone,” alleges advocate Srinivas.
Similarly, there are several AC rooms for pilgrims. But the ACs are always under repair. “There are no records on how many ACs are in working condition but they keep placing orders for new ACs,” says a former official not wanting to be named.
The Andhra Pradesh Government must instruct Tirupathi Devasthanam authorities to curb the bribe activities of its Devasthanam staff and instruct them to take stringent action against the erring officials. Instead of Devotion bribe is growing everywhere in Tirupati.
Our Indian Government must instruct the Andhra Pradesh Government in passing necessary amendments in the law to control Tirupati Devasthanam activities.