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Jagan under fire as TTD fails to telecast Modi Ayodhya puja

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The TTD SVBC channel did not telecast the foundation stone laying ceremony at Ayodhya Ram Temple yesterday. None other than Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation for the Temple. This event was telecast by over 250 channels in India and abroad. The non-telecast of the high-profile event of the recent times by TTD channel came in for lots of criticism. Especially the BJP AP leaders began launching a scathing attack. They asserted that this incident has hurt the sentiments of devotees all over the country.

BJP leader Dinakar demanded that the AP Government take action against the TTD officials responsible for the Ayodhya puja. He pointed out that the TTD was mainly aimed at dissemination of the Hindu Dharma but not individuals’ priorities.

The BJP leaders recalled that the SVBC channel telecasted live the AP Chief Minister’s visit to Sarada Peetham in Visakhapatnam. In that case, it was not clear why the TTD ignored such a historic incident like Ram Mandir puja now.

BJP leader Vishnuvardhan Reddy demanded the removal of SVBC Channel CEO Venkata Nagesh immediately for this gross negligence. This mistake was deliberately made. The CM, Endowments Minister and TTD chairman SV Subba Reddy should urgently give their response on this violation. It was unfortunate that the basic objective of the TTD to strive for the Hindu ideals was subverted in the present instance.

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TTD employee succumbs to Covid-19, Subba Reddy silent on suspension of ‘darshans’

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Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) employee succumbed to Covid-19 on Friday.

The TTD employee, Veeraswamy, was admitted to Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) hospital in Tirupati a week ago.

He succumbed on Friday while battling with the deadly infection. The family members of the deceased TTD employee alleged that the SVIMS had failed to give proper treatment to Veeraswamy. A day before Veeraswamy succumbed to Covid-19, he sent text messages to his son about lack of facilities and doctors at the SVIMS hospital.

Recently, former TTD chief priest Srinivasa Murthy Deekshitulu had died due to Covid-19 while taking treatment at SVIMS.

Several TTD employees and archakas (assistant priests) were tested positive for Covid-19. More than 150 TTD employees were tested positive for the virus after temple darshans were re-opened after the coronavirus imposed lockdown was lifted. At least 15 archakas working at Tirumala temple tested positive for COVID-19 and were shifted to Tirupati where they were admitted to various hospitals. Honorary chief priest and agama advisor Ramana Dikshitulu had appealed to the TTD to close the shrine to devotees for a few weeks to protect the priests. TTD Pedda Jeeyar Swamy Sri Satagopa Ramanuja Pedda Jeeyangar had recently tested positive for Covid-19 and was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

In a tweet, Deekshitulu had stated that at least 15 archakas (assistant priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection. “Out of the 50 priests in Sri Vari temple, 15 archakas were tested positive for the corona virus. Additionally, test results of 25 archakas are awaited. The TTD should temporarily suspend darshans. Despite the archakas contracting the virus, the TTD has not stopped allowing darshans. One can expect a major disaster in Tirumala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala,” he had tweeted.

The TTD Staff and Workers United Front had also written to the TTD Executive Officer requesting that darshan at the temple be temporarily suspended. Apart from archakas, at least 140 TTD employees are known to have tested positive for Covid-19.

However, TTD Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy on July 16 ruled out suspension of darshans while reacting to Deekshitulu’s tweet. While the Andhra Pradesh government had reimposed complete lockdown till August 15 in Tirupati, the TTD is yet to temporarily suspend Sri Vari ‘darshans’. Tirumala was exempted from complete lockdown despite the fact that several TTD employees, priests and devotees contracted the virus.

The TTD’s adamant stand in not suspending ‘darshans’ came under sharp criticism, many commented that the TTD Trust Board was more interested in filling its coffers showing little or no concern to the devotees, priests or the TTD employees. TTD Trust Board chairman remains silent on the temporary suspension of ‘darshans’ despite demand from various quarters.

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Complete lockdown in Tirupati, questions raised over TTD

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Municipal authorities have intensified their efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections in the temple town of Tirupati with alarming rise in positive cases.

On Tuesday, the municipal staff have started santitising the hotspots in Tirupati as complete lockdown was reimposed in the temple town from Monday till August 5 to check its spread.

The district administration on Monday reimposed complete lockdown to contain the spread of the virus which will be enforced from 6 am to 11 pm till August 5. People will be allowed to buy essentials such as vegetables and groceries between 6 am and 11 pm daily although commercial establishments would remain closed during the lockdown period. Tirupati has seen a surge in infection rates after the complete lockdown was lifted. Currently, Tirupati has reported more than 1,700 positive Covi-19 cases of the total 5,400 COVID-19 cases in Chittoor district.

While the complete lockdown has been reimposed in Tirupati, Sri Vari darshans have not been halted by the TTD despite the growing number of archakas (assistant priests) testing positive for Covid-19. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had recently held an emergency meeting of officials to discuss the demand for a temporary suspension of darshan for devotees in view of increasing number of archakas (assistant priests) testing positive for coronavirus. Around 18 archakas were tested positive for Covid-19. Recently, Sri Sri Satagopa Ramanuja Pedda Jeeyangar tested positive for Covid-19. He was shifted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai for better treatment.

On July 16, temple honorary priest Ramana Deekshitulu took to his Twitter handle to demand that the darshans be temporarily stopped in view of an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases among the priests and devotees alike. In his tweet, Deekshitulu had stated that at least 15 archakas (priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection.

“Out of the 50 priests in Sri Vari temple, 15 archakas were tested positive for the corona virus. Additionally, test results of 25 archakas are awaited. The TTD should temporarily suspend darshans. Despite the archakas contracting the virus, the TTD has not stopped allowing darshans. The current political dispensation is following the anti-Brahmanical policies of Chandrababu Naidu. One can expect a major disaster in Tirumala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala,” he had tweeted.

Despite such demands, the TTD is yet to decide on temporary suspension of darshans. Questions are being raised over the TTD’s reluctance to temporarily halt ‘darshans’ to contain the spread of the virus among devotees and also archakas. The Opposition parties criticised that the TTD was more worried about filling its coffers and showing little or no concern for the devotees and archakas. They questioned the logic of reimposing the complete lockdown in Tirupati, while allowing darshans to devotees. Such lopsided policy will be counter-productive, they opined.

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TTD crucial meeting to decide suspension of darshans at Tirumala

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) will be holding an emergency meeting of officials and priests on Saturday to discuss the demand for a temporary suspension of darshan for devotees in view of increasing number of archakas (assitant priests) testing positive for coronavirus.

It is all likely that the TTD could temporarily suspend darshans as 18 archakas (assitant priests) were tested positive for Covid-19. According to reports, Pedda Jeeyar and Chinna Jeeyar were also tested positve for the infection.

Pedda jeeyar being shifted to Apollo hospitals in chennai with his health condition deteoriating. Worried over the increasing number of priests contracting the virus after the reopening of darshan post-lockdown, the TTD is seriously mulling to temporarily halt Sri Vari darshan to devotees.

On July 16, temple honorary priest Ramana Deekshitulu took to his Twitter handle to demand that the darshans be temporarily stopped in view of an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases among the priests and devotees alike.

In his tweet, Deekshitulu had stated that at least 15 archakas (priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection. “Out of the 50 priests in Sri Vari temple, 15 archakas were tested positive for the corona virus. Additionally, test results of 25 archakas are awaited. The TTD should temporarily suspend darshans. Despite the archakas contracting the virus, the TTD has not stopped allowing darshans. The current political dispensation is following the anti-Brahmanical policies of Chandrababu Naidu. One can expect a major disaster in Tirmuala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala,” he had tweeted.

The TTD Staff and Workers United Front had also written to the TTD Executive Officer requesting that darshan at the temple be temporarily suspended. Apart from archakas, at least 140 TTD employees are known to have tested positive for Covid-19.

However, TTD Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy in July 16 ruled out suspension of darshans while reacting to Deekshitulu’s tweet. Further, Subba Reddy claimed that 70 of the infected had been discharged and the rest were undergoing treatment. Less than 12,000 devotees will be allowed to enter the temple daily, he said.

On July 4, Subba Reddy claimed that not even a single devotee tested positive for COVID-19 since resumption of services at the Venkateswara temple in Tirumala on June 8. He had claimed that only 17 employees of the devasthanams tested positive.

Reacting sharply to Ramana Dikshitulu, Subba Reddy advised the honorary chief priest to put forth any issue before the TTD Trust Board and desist from making public statements. Further, Subba Reddy stated that he had directed the TTD officials to discuss the issues being brought to the fore by Ramana Dikshitulu.

“Ramana Dikshitulu was appointed as honorary chief priest by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. We have taken all necessary measures to protect the priests. The TTD Trust Board is also willing to temporarily suspend darshans in the interests of archakas,” Subba Reddy said.

Meanwhile, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said, “None of the devotees have any health issues. We called 700 devotees between June 18 to 24 and called 1,943 devotees between July 1 to 7. All of them replied that they are healthy,” However, according to some reports, hundreds of TTD staff and devotees tested positive for the virus ever since Tirumala temple reopened on June 11 which remained shut for nearly 85 days due to the lockdown.

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15 Tirumala archakas tested positive for Covid-19: Ramana Dikshitulu

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In an alarming revelation, honorary chief priest of Tirumala temple A V Ramana Dikshitulu stated that at least 15 archakas (priests) contracted the deadly Covid-19 infection.

Taking to his Twitter handle, Ramana Dikshitulu said, “Of the 50 priests in Sri Vari temple, 15 archakas were tested positive for the corona virus. Additionally, test results of 25 archakas are awaited. The TTD should temporarily suspend darshans. Despite the archakas contracting the virus, the TTD has not stopped allowing darshans. The current political dispensation is following the anti-Brahmanical policies of Chandrababu Naidu. One can expect a major disaster in Tirmuala if the Chief Minister fails to respond to the current situation in Tirumala. CBN has illegally unconstitutionally retired 20+ hereditary archakas. Hon high court ordered TTD to take us back. Jagan promised to take us back. But TTD EO and AEO still obey CBN and refuse to implement court orders and Jagan’s instructions. We still wait.

The TTD Staff and Workers United Front have written to the TTD Executive Officer requesting that darshan at the temple be temporarily suspended.

Dikshitulu’s statement goes against the claims of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy. On July 4, Subba Reddy claimed that not even a single devotee tested positive for COVID-19 since resumption of services at the Venkateswara temple in Tirumala on June 8. He had claimed that only 17 employees of the devasthanams tested positive.

Reacting sharply to Ramana Dikshitulu, Subba Reddy advised the honorary chief priest to put forth any issue before the TTD Trust Board and desist from making public statements. Further, Subba Reddy stated that he had directed the TTD officials to discuss the issues being brought to the fore by Ramana Dikshitulu. “Ramana Dikshitulu was appointed as honorary chief priest by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. We have taken all necessary measures to protect the priests. The TTD Trust Board is also willing to temporarily suspend darshans in the interests of archakas,” Subba Reddy said.

Meanwhile, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said, “None of the devotees have any health issues. We called 700 devotees between June 18 to 24 and called 1,943 devotees between July 1 to 7. All of them replied that they are healthy,”

However, according to some reports, hundreds of TTD staff and devotees tested positive for the virus ever since Tirumala temple reopened on June 11 which remained shut for nearly 85 days due to the lockdown.

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Day-1 at Tirumala shrine sees coffers fill up with Rs 2.5m in offerings

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The world’s richest Hindu shrine managed by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) saw offerings to the tune of Rs 25.7 lakh pour in on Monday, when its doors were opened for the devotees, about 80 days after they were shut in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first day saw around 6,000 devotees, comprising TTD employees and their family members, lining up for a darshan of the presiding deity. TTD has earmarked the first three days for employees and their families, in a kind of test run before the general public are allowed inside the premises from June 11.

A temple official, on condition of anonymity, said that the cash accruals through hundi offerings made by the devotees, comprising TTD employees and their families, were counted on Tuesday and found to total a little over Rs 25 lakh.

With the temple getting closed on account of the nationwide lockdown, the subsequent lack of pilgrim footfall and donations had resulted in a cash crunch at the TTD. Prior to the lockdown, the temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, used to attract around 60,000 pilgrims on an average per day.

The TTD has decided to limit the entry to 6,000 devotees per day in order to ensure compliance with the Covid-19 protocols of physical distancing.

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TTD case against hero Surya father for defamatory comments

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The Andhra Pradesh Government is not sparing even persons from outside the state in respect of its prestige issues. Now, a case is filed against Tamil hero Surya father Siva Kumar for allegedly making some derogatory comments.

Recently, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has been figuring frequently in controversies. Along with Siva Kumar, seven others were involved in the case. The complaint was made by a Tamil Nadu person.

The complainant said that Sivakumar and others were launching negative propaganda against the TTD. They were accused of spreading rumours that Tirupati and Tirumala became home for anti-social activities. The complainant said that the accused persons were telling people not to go to Tirumala because of threats from anti-social elements.

The TTD took the issue seriously and the police have booked the case. Already, the TTD is troubled with the Coronavirus impact and also cautious about preventive measures during reopening of the Seven Hills temple for devotees. At this juncture, defamatory comments are being taken seriously. It is not yet known on what grounds the complaint was lodged against the Surya father.

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Srivari darsan will start at Tirumala from June 11: TTD

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams temple at Tirumala will reopen for darshanams from June 11. TTD Chairman SV Subba Reddy has announced this today. The decision is taken at a high level meeting. All preventive measures against Coronavirus will be taken up with more emphasis in view of the arrival of large crowds of devotees.

Subba Reddy said that children below 10 years and those above 65 years age would not be allowed darsanam. These categories of people were found to be vulnerable to the virus infections. The online booking of tickets will be opened. Also, manual booking will be provided at the Alipiri entrance gate in Tirupati.

All devotees must necessarily pass through the thermal scanning at the Alipiri Gate. Anybody found reporting temperatures above the limit would not be allowed. At the same time, social distancing would be strictly enforced during the stay of pilgrims at the temple. Only one hour darsan would be given for VIPs. Srivari Mettu route would remain closed for some more time till further orders. There will be no entrance for devotees into the Pushkarini.

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Tirumala temple to hold ‘trial run of darshan’ with limited devotees

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The Andhra Pradesh government has given nod to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) to conduct a trial run of ‘darshan’ at the Tirumala temple with TTD employees and local devotees.

On a request by the TTD, which manages the affairs of the world’s richest Hindu temple, the state government accorded the permission with the concurrence of the department of health and family welfare.

In a memo issued by JSV Prasad, Special Chief Secretary to the state government, the TTD will hold a “trial run for TTD employees and local public of Tirumala, with limited number of people duly ensuring physical distance of 6 feet at all times and all points”.

The order was issued on a request made by the Executive Officer of TTD through a letter on May 12.

The nod came a day after the Centre began ‘Unlock Phase-I’. Under the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is proposed to allow places of worship to reopen from June 8.

The Andhra Pradesh government, however, has not yet issued any guidelines to implement Unlock Phase-I. It is still continuing the restrictions on the inter-state movement of people.

The nod to TTD, however, indicates that the state government may allow reopening of places of worship from June 8.

TTD Chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy had said on May 20 that resumption of ‘Srivari darshan’ to devotees depends on the central government decision to lift the lockdown.

“We have been receiving emails and phones on when we would resume ‘darshan’. But it all depends on the government’s decision on lifting of lockdown,” he had said.

Closed for devotees for ‘darshan’ since March 19, the hill shrine is losing almost Rs 200 crore in revenue every month.

With revenues reaching rock bottom, TTD is struggling to pay salaries to its employees and make other payments towards maintenance and security of the temple.

Daily offerings made by devotees in ‘Hundi’ is the main sources of revenue for the temple which attracts 50,000 to one lakh pilgrims every day.

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U-Turn: TTD halts auction of Srivari assets, Subba Reddy cries falsehood

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In a complete U-turn, a crucial meeting of the TTD trust board headed by chairman Y V Subba Reddy, on Thursday has decided to halt the controversial auction of Srivari assets in Tamil Nadu.

A decision to this effect was taken at the TTD trust board meeting on Thursday which was attended by TTD EO Anil Kumar Singhal, board members Karunakar Reddy and Chevi Reddy Bhaskar Reddy among others. Surprisingly, the TTD trashed the reports on auction of TTD assets as baseless and falsehood.

At the TTD meeting, board members said decided to initiate action against “those spreading falsehood” and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

If auction of TTD assets was baseless and false, YV Subba Reddy should explain why Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy issued a GO halting the auction of the TTD assets in Tamil Nadu? That begs one to ask ‘who is spreading falsehood?’

Y V Subba Reddy, who is maternal uncle of Jagan Mohan Reddy, should explain if the GO (No888) issued by the Andhra Pradesh government halting the auction of TTD assets was falsehood?

It may be noted that the Andhra Pradesh government had asked the TTD to stop any move to auction the temple assets in Tamil Nadu or in other parts of the country. Additionally, the Jagan government had asked TTD to consult Hindu religious leaders and Hindu devotees in matters related to Tirumala. The state government also directed the TTD to review its decision taking into consideration the sentiments of crores of Hindu devotees.

“Keeping in view the sentiments of devotees, the government hereby direct TTD to reexamine the issue in consultation with different stakeholders like religious elders, opinion makers, section of devotees etc. to ascertain whether these properties can be used by TTD for construction of temples, dharma pracharam and other religious activities,” the GO noted.

Is this falsehood?

Further, Subba Reddy should explain if it is falsehood that the TTD did not hold a meeting recently deciding to auction 50 immovable properties in AP and Tamil Nadu saying they were “unviable, not useful and prone to encroachment”.

Is it falsehood that the TTD did not hold a meeting last Saturday where the board had set up two committees to sell what it calls ”unviable and not maintainable” properties in Tamil Nadu through public auction.

What warranted Subba Reddy to give an explanation last Sunday?

Read in his own words…
“The practice of selling immovable and non-maintainable properties has been in vogue since 1974. Around 129 such properties were disposed of between 1974 and 2014. It was at the board meeting held on July 28, 2015, headed by the then chairman Chadalawada Krishnamurthy that resolution No.84 was passed to form a sub-committee to study the prospects of auctioning such properties. The meeting on January 30, 2016, gave the nod to the sub-committee’s proposal to dispose of 50 such properties that ranged between one cent and five cents. It is difficult to monitor and maintain. This board only continued the process. We have only set up committees to draw a roadmap on which assets to be auctioned, the upset price and other issues. The assets are mostly in Vellore, Kanchipuram, Tirutani and other far -off locations in Tamil Nadu. The agricultural lands in these areas do not exceed more than one acre or two acres, while house sites are in the range of 1 cent, 2 cent, 3 cents or maximum 5 cents. It is difficult to protect these properties. There is a possibility of encroachment.”

Meanwhile, a petition was also filed in the AP High Court on Tuesday directing the court to halt the auction of 50 TTD assets in Tamil Nadu. TTD, which manages the affairs of Sri Venkateswara temple, has decided to auction 50 properties situated in various parts of Tamil Nadu, mainly in Kanchipuram, Vellore and Tirutani. On Tuesday, the petitioner Amarnath through his counsel appealed to the High Court to set up a judicial committee to provide constitutional protection to safeguard temple properties. Further, the petitioner appealed to the court to notify the movable and immovable assets of TTD. The petitioner contended that auction of TTD assets will denude the temples of their properties and any act that involves loss of properties of the temples for the purposes other than those intended for the benefit or necessity of the temples will hurt the sentiments of the Hindu devotees. The petitioner has impleaded Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, endowments special secretary and TTD executive officer in the case. The petitioner argued that these assets were gifted to the TTD by devotees of Lord Balaji and the government has no right to sell them under the pretext of the properties being untenable and non-remunerative.

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TTD, Jagan govt dragged to High Court over auction of temple assets

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The proposed auction of temple assets by Tirmuala Tirupati Devasthanam trust board does not seem to die down anytime soon. Despite the Jagan government issuing a GO to halt the auction of TTD assets, the issue has now landed in the High Court. A legal battle has started brewing in Andhra Pradesh High Court over the proposed sale of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) properties in Tamil Nadu.

A petition was filed in the AP High Court on Tuesday directing the court to halt the auction of 50 TTD assets in Tamil Nadu. TTD, which manages the affairs of Sri Venkateswara temple, has decided to auction 50 properties situated in various parts of Tamil Nadu, mainly in Kanchipuram, Vellore and Tirutani.

On Tuesday, the petitioner Amarnath through his counsel appealed to the High Court to set up a judicial committee to provide constitutional protection to safeguard temple properties. Further, the petitioner appealed to the court to notify the movable and immovable assets of TTD. The petitioner contended that auction of TTD assets will denude the temples of their properties and any act that involves loss of properties of the temples for the purposes other than those intended for the benefit or necessity of the temples will hurt the sentiments of the Hindu devotees. The petitioner has impleaded Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, endowments special secretary and TTD executive officer in the case.

The petitioner argued that these assets were gifted to the TTD by devotees of Lord Balaji and the government has no right to sell them under the pretext of the properties being untenable and non-remunerative. On Saturday, the TTD trust board had set up two committees to sell what it calls ”unviable and not maintainable” properties in Tamil Nadu through public auction.

The properties which are proposed to go for auction are agriculture lands, houses, house sites and vacant lands gifted by devotees.

TTD chairman Y V Subba Reddy, who is also Jagan Mohan Reddy’s maternal uncle, initially stated that the TTD has decided to auction 50 immovable properties in AP and Tamil Nadu which are unviable, not useful and prone to encroachment so as per Rule 165 of Chapter -XXII issued in government order (GO) Ms No.311, Revenue (Endowment 1) Department, dated 09-04-1990. The TTD Board is competent to sell, exchange and mortgage are immovable properties if found beneficial to TTD.” However, on Monday Y V Subba Reddy in a U-turn said the TTD has not decided to auction the properties but was only mulling a roadmap on the modalities of which lands can be auctioned, upset price and other related issues.

“The government will do everything to protect the temple properties and will always work in the service of God. The TTD meeting was held on Saturday to discuss on how to protect these properties. Further, Subba Reddy said the practice of selling immovable and non-maintainable properties has been in vogue since 1974.”Around 129 such properties were disposed of between 1974 and 2014,” he said. It was at the board meeting held on July 28, 2015, headed by the then chairman Chadalawada Krishnamurthy that resolution No.84 was passed to form a sub-committee to study the prospects of auctioning such properties. The meeting on January 30, 2016, gave the nod to the sub-committee’s proposal to dispose of 50 such properties that ranged between one cent and five cents. tucked away from the mainland and thus difficult to monitor and maintain. “This board only continued the process. The State government has nothing to do with the TTD’s decision,” Subba Reddy said.

“We have only set up committees to draw a roadmap on which assets to be auctioned, the upset price and other issues. The assets are mostly in Vellore, Kanchipuram, Tirutani and other far -off locations in Tamil Nadu. The agricultural lands in these areas do not exceed more than one acre or two acres, while house sites are in the range of 1 cent, 2 cent, 3 cents or maximum 5 cents. It is difficult to protect these properties. There is a possibility of encroachment. In such a scenario, the TTD held a meeting to discuss a roadmap on how to protect these properties without hurting the sentiments of the devotees. We have not issued any orders for auctioning the properties.” The TTD chairman said the trust board will again meet to review the whole issue and announce its decision.

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Jagan govt develops cold feet, issues GO halting auction of TTD assets

Buckling under pressure from the Opposition parties and Hindu religious leaders, the Andhra Pradesh government isued a GO to stop the auction of TTD assets. The significant decision was taken on late Monday.

The Andhra Pradesh government issued a GO (Number 888) in this regard. The fresh GO nullifies the earlier GO issued on January 30, 2016 to dispose of 50 TTD properties. Further, the government had asked the TTD to stop any move to auction the temple assets in Tamil Nadu or in other parts of the country. Additionally, the Jagan government had asked TTD to consult Hindu religious leaders and Hindu devotees in matters related to Tirumala. The state government also directed the TTD to review its decision taking into consideration the sentiments of crores of Hindu devotees.

“Keeping in view the sentiments of devotees, the government hereby direct TTD to reexamine the issue in consultation with different stakeholders like religious elders, opinion makers, section of devotees etc. to ascertain whether these properties can be used by TTD for construction of temples, dharma pracharam and other religious activities,” the GO noted.

“Till the finalization of the matter stated above, the proposed disposal of 50 properties by TTD is hereby kept in abeyance,” the GO noted. The executive officer, TTD, was asked to submit a compliance report immediately.

The issue has snowballed into a major controversy with the central BJP leadership visibly miffed with the TTD’s move to auction the temple assets in Tamil Nadu. A day after the TTD took the decision to sell the temple assets, Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha, who is also a special invitee to the TTD Trust Board, dashed off a letter to Y V Subba Reddy asking the TTD to not to go ahead with the sale of temple assets in Tamil Nadu. In the letter, Rakesh Sinha said the sale of assets will hurt the sentiments of crores of Hindu devotees across the world.

Y V Subba Reddy on Sunday tweeted to Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha. “TTD, since 1974, has been monetizing lands which are hard to manage and splintered across the country. TTD monetizes lands only when there is no possibility of making them spiritually viable and manageable for the organization. These lands are of small sizes like 4 to 10 cents where no development is possible. This is NOT an AP Govt. decision. Successive TTD trust board’s in the past have established the procedures to monetize unviable lands. The present trust board is only following the established norms of previous trust boards without any deviations. Eventually we want to safeguard the donor devotees generous contributions to the TTD either in the form of land or corpus.”@RakeshSinha01

The Jagan government’s GO comes a day after Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha letter to Y V Subba Reddy.

Earlier in the day, TTD chairman Y V Subba Reddy said the TTD board will take decision on selling temple properties in next board meeting. Turning his guns on Eenadu and ABN channel, Y V Subba Reddy who is Jagan Mohan Reddy’s maternal uncle, said the Opposition parties were politicizing the issue and trying to throw muck at the YSRCP government by making a mole out of mountain hill. On Saturday, the TTD held a meeting and decided to auction the temple assets in Tamil Nadu. On Sunday, Y V Subba Reddy defended the TTD’s decision to sell 50 immovable properties through public auction saying it was well within the board’s purview.

In a complete U-turn, Y V Subba Reddy who held a press briefing on Monday said, “The government will do everything to protect the temple properties and will always work in the service of God. The TTD meeting was held on Saturday to discuss on how to protect these properties. The YSRCP government sees no reason why the temple assets should be auctioned.”

Subba Reddy said the practice of selling immovable and non-maintainable properties has been in vogue since 1974.”Around 129 such properties were disposed of between 1974 and 2014,” he said. It was at the board meeting held on July 28, 2015, headed by the then chairman Chadalawada Krishnamurthy that resolution No.84 was passed to form a sub-committee to study the prospects of auctioning such properties. The meeting on January 30, 2016, gave the nod to the sub-committee’s proposal to dispose of 50 such properties that ranged between one cent and five cents. tucked away from the mainland and thus difficult to monitor and maintain. “This board only continued the process. The State government has nothing to do with the TTD’s decision,” Subba Reddy said.

“We have only set up committees to draw a roadmap on which assets to be auctioned, the upset price and other issues. The assets are mostly in Vellore, Kanchipuram, Tirutani and other far -off locations in Tamil Nadu. The agricultural lands in these areas do not exceed more than one acre or two acres, while other assets are in the range of 1 cent, 2 cent, 3 cents or maximum 5 cents of land. It is difficult to protect these properties. There is a possibility of encroachment. In such a scenario, the TTD held a meeting to discuss a roadmap on how to protect these properties without hurting the sentiments of the devotees. We have not issued any orders for auctioning the properties. We will not do anything that would hurt the sentiments of the devotees. The TTD chairman said the trust board will again meet to review the whole issue and announce its decision.

The TTD’s move to auction has sparked off a political row. The sentiments of Hindu devotees were deeply hurt by the decision. BJP president Kanna Lakshminarayana said his party cadres would organise protests across the State on May 26 against the government’s attempts to sell the properties of temples, including those of TTD. Lakshminarayana said it was highly objectionable to sell the properties of temples for whatever reason. BJP Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narasimha on Monday demanded that the government stop attempts to sell temple assets and desist from hurting the sentiments of Hindu devotees.

On Monday, Bandi Sanjay Kumar took to his Twitter handle to take on both the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments. He said the Jagan government was trying to turn Andhra Pradesh into the fiefdom of Christianity while the KCR government was turning Telangana into Muslim kingdom. “We will protect Hindu temples from these rulers and dig the political grave of these political parties,” Bandi Sanjay tweeted

Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan on Monday decried the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) move to sell Srivari properties and demanded that the Jagan sarkar withdraw its decision immediately. He said the movable and immovable assets were donated by devotees in South and North India to Lord Venkateswara and that the TTD has only insulted and hurt the sentiments of the devotees who donated the properties by calling the assets as non-remunerative.

“Devotees have donated house sites, agricultural lands and buildings. The TTD has insulted the devotees by calling these assets as non-remunerative. The devotees donated the properties for Hindu religious purposes and to ensure service to the Lord, and not to the State government to sell the assets. The properties donated by the devotees should serve the devotees and pilgrims coming to the Lord’s abode. The TTD’s argument that it cannot protect properties located at far-off places and that they are non-remunerative, and hence the decision to sell them, does not go well with the Hindu devotees. I fail to understand why the TTD, which has a ‘Estate wing, has decided to auction the assets. There is no dearth of funds to run the affairs of the temple administration. The interest earned on the temple deposits is enough to run the temple administration,” Pawan Kalyan tweeted.

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Pawan Kalyan demands Jagan sarkar to desist from auctioning Srivari assets

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Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan on Monday decried the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) move to sell Srivari properties and demanded that the Jagan sarkar withdraw its decision immediately.

Demanding immediate halt to the auction of Srivari assets in Tamil Nadu, Pawan Kalyan said the movable and immovable assets were donated by devotees in South and North India to Lord Venkateswara. The Jana Sena Party president said the TTD has insulted and hurt the sentiments of the devotees who donated the properties by calling the assets as non-remunerative.

“Devotees have donated house sites, agricultural lands and buildings. The TTD has insulted the devotees by calling these assets as non-remunerative. The devotees donated the properties for Hindu religious purposes and to ensure service to the Lord, and not to the State government to sell the assets. The properties donated by the devotees should serve the devotees and pilgrims coming to the Lord’s abode,” Pawan Kalyan tweeted.

Pawan Kalyan said that the TTD and the State government should act as protectors of money and properties donated by the devotees and do not have the right to sell them. “There are several ashrams and peethams to which devotees have donated vast assets. These properties are being effectively managed by the ashrams and peethams. The TTD’s argument that it cannot protect properties located at far-off places and that they are non-remunerative, and hence the decision to sell them, does not go well with the Hindu devotees. I fail to understand why the TTD, which has a ‘Estate wing, has decided to auction the assets. There is no dearth of funds to run the affairs of the temple administration. The interest earned on the temple deposits is enough to run the temple administration.”

“All Hindu Religious Institutions and Organizations look upto TTD. As the largest and one of the richest religious institutions of the world, TTD must set a good example and best practices for others to follow,” Pawan Kalyan tweeted.

On Saturday, the TTD decided to auction 50 TTD properties in Tamil Nadu. On Sunday, TTD trust board chairman and Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s maternal uncle Y V Subba Reddy on Sunday said defended the TTD’s decision to sell 50 immovable properties through public auction saying it was well within the board’s purview.

“If TTD sells away land, this shall set a bad precedent and even other Hindu Religious institutions might imitate it. This shall also hurt the sentiments and beliefs of millions of devotees. Andhra Pradesh has suffered and is still suffering a lot post bifurcation; the state still does not have a full fledged capital city; the economy of the state is very weak and fragile. AP needs investors to create jobs and revive the economy; one of the major resources for any government is land. Land can attract investors, land can be used to create value, land can generate revenue and hence the government must try all possible ways to protect and secure government properties, especially land. Hurting the devotee’s sentiment and belief and risking the economic opportunities for the state in the future, it would be a grave mistake if the YCP led state government lets TTD sell off the lands in the prevailing circumstances,” Pawan Kalyan noted.

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IYR targets CM Jagan on TTD property sale and Srivari laddus

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Former Chief Secretary IYR Krishna Rao is holding Chief Minister’s Office responsible for the latest anti-devotee policies being taken by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. He says the CMO is literally running whole affairs of the TTD and the board has no scope for functioning independently under the present government. How can the TTD properties be put up for sale at a time when real estate values are at an all-time low all over the country due to Coronavirus lockdowns? The TTD should understand that its previous boards have accepted donations of properties on the mutual agreement that they will be used for the benefit of the Balaji devotees.

IYR has also found fault with the sale of Srivari laddus in the open market. It does not go well with the tradition that was there behind sale of laddus at the Seven Hills temple. The government should stop this along with sale of properties. It is also the duty of the government to protect and preserve Hindu Dharma.

IYR expressed concern that the temples are becoming political rehabilitation centres rather than places of worship and devotion. The same party which has opposed sale of TTD properties in the past has now begun doing this without bothering about devotees.

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TTD decides to auction 23 Srivari assets in TN; Kanna sees red, Jana Sena to fight legal battle

In a move that is likely to land in a legal wrangle, the Jagan government on Saturday decided to auction TTD assets. A decision to this effect was taken at a Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) meeting on Saturday.

The state government has decided to take over and auction 23 Srivari assets of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam across Tamil Nadu, mainly in Vellore, Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram. The TTD has set up eight committees. At the meeting, the TTD has decided to liquidate assets like land parcels and buildings donated by devotees to Lord Venkateswara to tide over the financial crisis and help provide salaries of its about 22,000 Tirumala staff members. The TTD has entrusted the registration of temple properties to the TTD officials, a move severely criticized by the state BJP, Congress and Jana Sena leaders.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) has land and other assets not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Haryana and Odisha. The worth of TTD properties would be over thousands of crores.

Y V Subbareddy, TTD board chairman and maternal uncle of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, in the past attributed the auction of temple lands to paucity of funds. The board has already announced that they don’t have enough funds to pay the employees salary from June. It has also said that that temple board has no other go except for relying on the fixed deposits and sale of temple wealth for maintenance expenses.

BJP State president Kanna Laxminarayana on Saturday demanded that the TTD drop the idea of auction of TTD assets as it would severely hurt the religious sentiments of millions of devotees. Questioning the propriety behind the TTD move, he said the onus of protecting the temple properities rested on the shoulders of the state government. The TTD would have to face a public agitation if it went ahead with the move to sell temple assets, he said. “The government is playing with the sentiments of Hindu devotees and trying to undermine Hindu religion. We will not keep silent if the TTD assets are auctioned,” Kanna warned.

The Jana Sena leaders came down heavily on the state government saying the motive behind the move was to usurp the temple properties by the YSRCP leaders and their family members. The Jana Sena leaders said they will move the court to challenge the government’s decision to auction temple assets saying the Jagan government’s decision will hurt the sentiments of crores of devotees. The Opposition leaders demanded that the TTD should immediately stop its move to take over and auction the temple properties.

AP Mahila Congress leader Padmavathi said the TTD’s move is an insult to the devotees who donated the lands to Lord Venkateswara and that the TTD officials have miserably failed to protect the properties of Lord Venkateswara.

Former Congress Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan had recently asked the central government to appropriate all the gold lying with all religious trusts in India. According to Chavan, the gold worth $1 trillion could be borrowed at a low-interest rate and utilised in the ongoing “emergency” Covid-19 situation. “Government must immediately appropriate all the gold lying with all the religious trusts in the country, worth at least $1trillion, according to the World Gold Council. The gold can be borrowed through gold bonds at a low-interest rate. This is an emergency,” he recently tweeted sparking a row.

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No question of touching gold, cash deposits, asserts TTD Chairman

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Closed for darshan for nearly two months due to coronavirus lockdown, the revenues of Sri Venkateswara temple at Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala have hit the rock bottom but the body which runs the affairs of the world’s richest temple said it has the reserves to pay salaries to its employees for May.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Chairman Y. S. Subba Reddy told IANS that despite the crisis, it has the reserves to pay salaries for the month of May. He is also confident of mobilising resources to pay salaries and take care of other expenses for maintenance of the temple for the next month, if required.

He, however, ruled out drawing money from the fixed deposits or gold deposits in the bank.

“That will not happen. Our Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has given instructions that we should not touch deposits because it is a sentimental issue. Gold and fixed deposits are given by devotees from all the country. That is sentimental. Only Hundi and other collections have to go to corpus,” he said.

Balaji temple, as the hill shrine is also popularly known, is reported to have nine tonnes of gold reserve and Rs 14,000 crore fixed deposits in various banks.

“Drawing from deposits does not arise. Still, we don’t know what will happen in future. We will see to it that it does not happen and we continue all customs and procedures perfectly,” said Subba Reddy, who is also the maternal uncle of the Chief Minister.

The temple was closed for devotees on March 19, much before the announcement of lockdown. The TTD is losing almost Rs 200 crore revenue every month due to the closure.

“We get the revenue through Hundi, Arjita Sevas, auction of hair, room rents and other sources. Room rent, hair and others operate on a cost to cost basis and the main revenue is thorough Hundi,” he said.

The temple earns Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,200 crore from ‘Hundi’ collections or offerings by devotees every year.

“We are passing through difficult times not just we but the entire country and the whole world through the crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In these times we were forced to close darshan for devotees but the temple maintenance, pooja programmes are continuing in accordance with the temple procedure and systems. We have to maintain temples, conduct poojas, organise festivals as per the programme. Whether there is work or no work, you have to pay salaries to the employees. We have already managed for two months.”

TTD spends Rs 125 crore every month towards payment of salaries, maintenance of temples and security.

“We paid salaries for March and April. We have some reserves kept ready for paying salaries for May. For June, we will have to raise some other sources. I am confident we will work out some formula and mobilize,” he said.

“I don’t know. As of now I can’t say. I hope the Lord will not allow the situation to come to that stage,” the TTD chairman said when asked if he would look for support from the state government.

The hill shrine attracts 50,000 to one lakh pilgrims every day. The number on special occasions like the annual Brahmotsavam and festivals goes up to 4-5 lakh.

The devotees make offerings in the form of cash, gold and silver jewellery, property deeds and even demat shares.

For 2020-2021, TTD had presented a Rs 3,310 crore budget with the cash offerings by devotees projected at Rs 1,351 crore.

The temple trust expects Rs 706 crore interest on deposits in nationalised and private banks, Rs 302 crore from the sale of tickets for various forms of worship and Rs 400 crore from laddu ‘prasadam’.

The earnings from the auction on human hair to be offered by millions of devotees as fulfillment of their vow were likely to be Rs 106 crore.

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Tirumala Balaji temple closed under corona threat

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has already closed down the Alipiri Gate in Tirupati and banned entry to all new pilgrims there. Rumours are doing rounds that the TTD has already decided to close Balaji Temple atop Tirumala hills. This is in tune with the Central government advisories to restrict all social gatherings. The massive crowds and rush in Temple queue lines also pose a risk. For the past few days, arrival of devotees has greatly come down.

Since yesterday, the AP government has begun taking anti-virus precautions after the SC order upheld postponement of local body elections. Schools are closed. Now, the endowments department began preventive measures. Annavaram Temple is also being restricted.

Latest reports say that by Friday midday, Tirumala temple will be completely closed down. The pilgrims who are already present atop the hills are being evacuated and they are asked to return home.

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TTD measures to prevent corona virus

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The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has decided to removing waiting of crowds in queues and compartments for Darshan. Lakhs of people visit the temple every day. But now, the corona virus is threatening to spread from any corner. Already, a positive case has raised big concerns in Nellore town limits. Many states and institutions are taking immediate voluntary steps for safety precautions.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal has come out with these preventive measures. The mass gathering problem is indeed big in Tirumala temple. Moreover, devotees come from all over the world. Screening of the devotees is also not possible because of the lack of enough medical infrastructure there.

Because of these limitations, the TTD decided to give time slots to devotees. Also, the devotees will not be allowed to go in crowds at one time to had Darshan. There are reports the arrival of devotees has also come down a bit because of the virus scare. Because of the epidemic steady spread in different parts of India, institutions like TTD are becoming alert. For safety sake, the TTD has already cancelled Sitaramula Kalyanam in Vontimitta Ramalayam.

Meanwhile, TDP is asking the State Election Commission to suspend the elections temporarily and restart the same after virus scare is over.

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Harish Rao ignored by YSRCP leaders and TTD officials!

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TRS senior leader and Telangana finance minister T Harish Rao’s position seems to be turning from bad to worse.

TRS party chief and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao has sidelined Harish Rao both in the TRS and also in the TRS government, while he is promoting his son KTR both in the party and the government. Speculations are rife that KTR will be made as CM anytime in 2020.

On Monday, Harish got yet another shocker in Andhra Pradesh, as he was ignored by both YSRCP leaders and also TTD officials.

Harish was in Tirumala to have darshan of Lord Venkateshwara on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi on Monday.

However, Harish was shocked to find that there was no one to receive him at the temple.

On the other hand, KCR’s son KT Rama Rao was accorded a grand welcome at Tirumala.

YSRCP leaders and TTD officials queued up at the temple to welcome KTR at Tirumala right from his arrival at the Renigunta airport on Sunday evening till he had darshan of the Lord during VIP break darshan on Monday. KTR was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter.

YSRCP MP PV Midhun Reddy, MLA Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, a host of local YSRCP leaders and TTD officials accorded him a grand welcome at the airport and also at the temple. They accompanied KTR’s family in the temple.

Harish too is entitled for protocol at Tirumala temple as a minister from Telangana State. But no one bothered to follow the protocol. Harish had to wait for longer time at the temple as neither anyone received him nor made any arrangements for his darshan of the Lord.

Though Harish tried to reach out to TTD officials, there was no response. At one point, Harish reportedly got angry and decided to return Hyderabad without having darshan.

However, the timely involvement of TTD board member from Telangana, Damodar Rao has saved the day for Harish. Damodar Rao made arrangements for Harish and ensured Harish got VIP break darshan along with other VIPs.

An angry Harish returned to Hyderabad immediately after darshan as he was not keen on staying in Tirumala any longer.

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TTD another row on ‘Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam’

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Ex Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam actively and innocently supported CM Jagan Reddy in every step without realising what would happen to him later. Similarly, TTD Agama Advisor Ramana Deekshitulu is crossing all limits to support any proposals brought by YCP sympathisers. In just a few days, Deekshitulu gave his second approval for changing long-established traditions in the Seven Hills Temple.

The latest controversy is that the TTD is going ahead to extend Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam to devotees from two days to 10 days. Without losing any time, Ramana Deekshitulu has waved green flag for this saying that this extension will not go against the Agama Shastra. But, the traditionalists say that Vaikuntha Dwara Darsanam will be like ordinary darsan only if it is done on days other than the fixed two days every year.

Devotees are accusing TTD of breaking the long-cherished traditions for the sake of taking commercial advantages out of religious beliefs. Ramana Deekshitulu is facing criticism from priests for supporting these ungodly activities. No doubt, Deekshitulu will one day regret his actions just like LV Subrahmanyam.

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