Hyderabad: The world’s richest Hindu temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is sitting on pure gold reserves of over 9,000 kg, officials said. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple, has 7,235 kg of yellow metal deposited with two nationalised banks under different gold deposit schemes. TTD has 1,934 kg gold in its treasury, including 1,381 kg which it got back from Punjab National Bank last month following the end of three-year term of gold deposit scheme. TTD Board, the highest decision making body, is yet to decide on the bank where 1,381 kg gold will be deposited. According to sources, it was studying various gold deposit schemes and would opt for the one which offers the best returns.
The remaining 553 kg of gold in TTD treasury comprises small jewellery and other items offered by the devotees. TTD often avoids revealing details of gold deposits but the controversy over the seizure of 1,381 kg of gold by election authorities in Tamil Nadu last month made the body to come out with the details. A PNB truck carrying the gold from its Chennai branch to Tirupati was stopped and seized by the election authorities in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvallur district on April 17 during vehicle checking in view of the polling scheduled the next day.
As the TTD initially denied that the seized gold belong to it, it kicked up a row with the allegations that the temple authorities did not even know that the temple gold was being brought back. The temple body, however, defended its stand saying the gold can’t be called TTD’s till it reaches its treasury. The gold reached TTD treasury only two days later after the PNB submitted all documents to the Income Tax department to prove that it was temple gold and was being transported to Tirupati to hand it over to TTD on completion of term of gold deposit scheme.
TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal came out with all details even as Chief Secy LV Subramanyam ordered a probe into the alleged lapses into the release and transportation of the gold. Balaji temple, as the hill shrine is also popularly known, had deposited 1,311 kg gold with PNB in 2016. The bank returned the same with an interest of 70 kg gold. TTD revealed that 5,387 kg of its gold is with the State Bank of India and another 1,938 kg is with the Indian Overseas Bank. For last two decades, TTD had been keeping its gold in various nationalised. After the announcement of gold monetisation scheme by the RBI in 2015, TTD deposited gold reserved under short, medium and long term schemes.