HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 11, 2020 (Gulf News): The world's richest Hindu temple management body, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), has expressed its inability to pay salaries to its employees and bear the day-to-day expenses of running the temples' affairs. TTD, whose main source of income is Sri Venkateshwara Temple atop the Tirumala Hills in Andhra Pradesh, has informed its employees that it would not be able to pay this month's salary on time. TTD officials said that it has already incurred a revenue loss of US$53 million due to the closure of Tirumala temple due to the COVID-19 related lockdown since March 20. "The average monthly income of Tirumala temple alone is $26.6 to $29 million. But since the temple was closed due to lockdown, there has been no revenue," said YV Subba Reddy, chairman of TTD.
Earlier, the TTD had discontinued the services of 1,300 contract workers in its sanitation and other wings on the grounds of cash crunch and its income from the offerings of the devotees and other services had come down to zero. TTD officials said that without any income for nearly two months, it has already incurred an expenditure of $40 million on salaries, pension and other recurring expenses. With huge gold reserves of 8 tons (worth today US$429 billion) and fixed deposits of approx. $1.85 billion, managing the situation should not have been a problem for the Trust, but officials said they wanted to overcome the present crisis without touching any of its reserves. The temple, situated atop the seven hills near Tirupati, has never faced this kind of financial crisis in its more than 1,000 year history. Now either the government has to ease the lockdown and allow the pilgrims into the temple or the TTD will have to break its fixed deposits and withdraw money, an official said.