The Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD), abode of Lord Venkateshwara, is facing revenue deficiency as the number of devotees drastically reduced during the coronavirus crisis. While in the pre-Covid times, the TTD Balaji earned substantial revenue estimated at Rs 100 crore at least a month, now it has been reduced to less than half. In May, the income earned was put at just 50 crore.
According to information, the TTD suffers a shortage of finances due to non-receipt of donations that come from the devotees in multiple forms. The devout used to give offerings, donations to SriVari Hundi, in other forms like accommodation, SriVari Sevas, special pujas, Kalyana Katta, transportation, among others.
Considered Kaliyuga Vaikuntham, this sacred place of Tirumala Hills has been facing revenue deficit, as well as, poor patronage due to the pandemic. The SriVari Temple is no exception to the effect of the pandemic amid lockdowns and strict adherence to COVID protocols.
The TTD officials are allowing less number of the devotees to contain the spread of the virus. There used to be a huge rush as devotees thronged the Tirumala for darshan every day before the first wave of coronavirus. Now, due to the second wave, the number has thinned further, revenues officials say.
The TTD Finance Committee prepares its plan of annual budget, with 40 percent relying on SriVari Hundi revenue. There is no exaggeration to say that the TTD annual budget outlay is on par with the budget estimates of any Union Territory in the country.
On June 8 and 9, the TTD allowed darshan to its staff and on June 10, it permitted the locals followed by common devotees from June 11. The TTD temple authorities, which used to allow more than 50,000 devotees a day before the pandemic, have now reduced it to a mere 6,000 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
As pressure was mounted for darshan, the TTD first permitted 20,000 devotees and then reduced it to 6,000 a day amid the deadly second wave.
The reports say that the Lord Balaji Temple used to see a revenue of Rs 1,000 crore a year before COVID-19 hit. The revenue has now fallen drastically. The TTD decided to deny darshan for 83 days to devotees from March 20 to June 18 in 2020.
The TTD sees the loss of revenue through several resources as the sale of SriVari Laddu Prasadams has also fallen. In 2018-19, it received Rs 270 Cr, on and average revenue of Rs 80 lakhs a day, through Laddu Prasadams sale.
Last year the TTD earned Rs 235 crore through Shighra darshan and ticket darshan, Rs 100 crore through hair offerings at Kalyana Katta, and Rs 204 crore through business, accommodation, rental and toll fees. With this, the officials prepared an annual budget for Rs 3,116.25 Cr and revised it to Rs 3,243.19 Cr for 2019-20.
It included Rs 1,285 crore Hundi revenue against the estimated Rs 1,231 crore while the devotees offered Rs 50 crore more. Also, through Laddu Prasadams Rs 330 crore was received against Rs 270 cror estimated, an official TTD release stated.
In 2020-21, against the expectations of Rs 1,300 crore, the TTD received Hundi revenue Rs 751 crore and revised its budget to Rs 2,553 crore. For the current fiscal, now it plans Rs 2,837 crore which may also see a reduction due to non-receipt of revenue in the crisis period.
In March, the TTD registered Rs 104 crore Hundi revenue and in May fell to Rs 11.95 crore which may force it to reduce its budget outlay.