TIRUPATI: The famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is trapped in a quirky situation of sorts and is now seeking providential assistance for a way out. It has received a whopping four crores in demonetised notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 from devotees in the last two months – past the deadline for their exchange. This, at a time, when the government has notified a law making possession of more than 10 scrapped notes a punishable offence with a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000.
The temple administration has written to the government and the Reserve Bank of India on the fate of the accumulated scrapped notes and is awaiting a response, a top official said on Thursday.
Devotees thronging the cash-rich temple from various parts of the country continued to offer the banned currency notes in the hundi along with the valid notes even after December 30, the deadline for the exchange of demonetised notes. More than Rs. 4 crore in banned currency had been offered by the devotees, D Sambasiva Rao, Executive Officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which administers the shrine, said.
“We have already written to the RBI and the government about the demonetised notes, offered by devotees as fulfillment of their vows and are awaiting a reply,” he told reporters.
It is a common practice among devotees of Lord Venkateswara to keep depositing cash in tiny boxes or mud pots kept in ‘pooja rooms’ in their houses over a period. Later, they deposit the accumulated amount in the temple hundi whenever they come on pilgrimage to Tirumala.
Temple officials believe that a large part of the scrapped currency notes offered to the temple in the last two months might be the amount kept in the boxes at the homes.
The hundi in the shrine annually nets more than Rs. 1,000 crore, besides gold and silver offerings, a temple official said.