Tirupati’s Lord Balaji shrine has over Rs 4 crore in junked notes
The famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala is caught in a piquant situation as it has received over Rs 4 crore in demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes from devotees in its ‘hundi’ in the last two months, past the deadline for their exchange.
The temple administration has written to the government and the Reserve Bank of India on the fate of the accumulated notes and was awaiting a response, a top official said on Thursday.
Thousands of devotees thronging the cash-rich temple from various parts of the country continued to offer the junked currency in the hundi along with valid notes even after the deadline for exchange of demonetised notes expired on December 30.
More than Rs four crore in demonetised currency had been offered in the hundi, Executive Officer of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which administers the ancient shrine, D Sambasiva Rao said.
“We have already written to the RBI and Government of India about the demonetised notes offered by devotees as fulfillment of their vows and are awaiting a reply,” he said.
It is common practice for devotees of Lord Venkateswara to keep depositing cash in tiny boxes or mud pots kept in ‘pooja rooms’ in their houses over a period, and then deposit it in the temple hundi whenever they undertake the pilgrimage to Tirumala.
Temple officials believe a large part of the demonetised currency notes offered in the hundi in the last two months might be those kept in the boxes at homes.
The hundi in the shrine annually nets more than Rs 1,000 crore besides gold and silver offerings, temple officials said.
The government has notified a law that makes holding of more than 10 scrapped notes punishable with a minimum fine of Rs 10,000.