Gold seizure: No lapse on part of temple body, says TTD official

Anil Kumar Singhal

Tirupati: After the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary L V Subrahmanyam ordered a probe into the Election Commission’s seizures of gold belonging to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) in Tamilnadu last week, the TTD yesterday claimed there were no lapses on its part.

Speaking about it, Anil Kumar Singhal, TTD Executive Officer, denied allegations that the temple body, which administers the Lord Venkateswara hill temple did not follow proper procedure in getting back the gold deposited with the Punjab National bank in Chennai. He blamed that the seizure might have happened because the bank officials might have failed to submit the supporting documents, and that it was not the responsibility of the TTD to transport the gold from its treasury to any bank or vice-versa.

Ahead of the 18 April Lok Sabha polls, the election commission flying squad seized gold weighing 1,381 kg from a van in Tiruvallur. On enquiry, the van occupants had claimed that the gold was being transported from Chennai’s Punjab National Bank to Tirupati as it belonged to the TTD.

The officials subsequently released the gold after verification. However, the TTD was criticised on how the issue was handled.

The Special CS Manmohan Singh appointed by the chief secretary has been asked to visit Tirumala and conduct the inquiry into the security and procedural lapses in the transportation of temple gold and submit a report by today.

Singhal said gold was released after submitting proper documents to Election Commission officials and it was transported to the TTD treasury on 20 April.

Besides the gold that was returned, 1,938 kg of the precious metal has been deposited with the Indian Overseas Bank and 5,387 kg with the State Bank Of India. All these are in the form of 24 carat pure gold, converted from 22 carat jewels offered by the devotees, Singhal informed.

Also, about 550 kg of gold jewellery with stones offered by devotees in the Hundis was with the TTD, Singhal said.

NT Bureau