Tirupati: India`s richest Hindu temple in Tirupati on Friday deposited 1,175 kg gold with the State Bank of India (SBI) to convert the "dead assets" into income earning sources.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the temple`s affairs, had last year deposited 1,075 kg gold with the SBI.
TTD officials said the move would not only convert the "idle gold" into a perennial source of income but would also provide security to its assets.
The TTD Specified Authority Chairman J. Satyanarayana handed over the gold deposits to SBI Hyderabad Circle General Manager T.S. Krishna Swamy.
The bank official said TTD was the highest depositor of gold among religious institutions in the country.
"Apart from this, keeping in view the larger interests of the pilgrims, we have decided to bear the transportation and purification charges at out own expense", Swamy said.
SBI along with HDFC and Punjab National Bank also inaugurated secured payment gateway facility by integrating with TTD online for accepting e-Hundi collections donations, which became operational from Friday.
With this facility the donors can now use their debit, credit, Visa or Master cards to make donations.
Following objections from various quarters, the TTD Specified Authority has given up its proposal of handing over the monuments of temple of Lord Venkateshwara and other temples to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for structural maintenance.
"We are giving the proposal a relook and also pursuing other alternative solution to see that the temples, which are the identity of our rich heritage and culture, were protected forever for benefit of future generations", said Satyanarayana.
TTD Executive Officer I.Y.R. Krishna Rao said that TTD proposed to present a budget estimate of Rs.1,640 crore in the fiscal year 2011-12. The TTD earnings have increased with the "hundi" collections touching Rs.650 crore in the 2010-11 and are likely to cross Rs.675 crore mark by 2011-12.
"Hundi" collections are the donations given by pilgrims after "darshan" (visit).
In another key decision, TTD Specified Authority invited global consultancy company Ernst and Young to implement Sri-Seva Project. The project under a seamless environment under one roof will provide all facilities to pilgrims like comfortable "darshan", accommodation and other facilities at Tirumala and Tirupati.
Ernst and Young will submit its tender estimates for the execution and the maintenance of the Sri Seva project.
TTD also decided to hire the services of Keltron Ltd, a state undertaking of Government of Kerala, for taking up upgradation of IT systems at a cost of Rs.1.32 crore.