April 22, 2019
Image credit : Illustrative image
Chennai : Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) on Monday shrugged off any responsibility for poor security arrangements for transporting gold belonging to it from Punjab National Bank in Tamil Nadu. TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal told media persons on Monday that the entire responsibility of transporting and depositing the gold that belonged to TTD at its own treasury was that of the Punjab National Bank.
“I am not concerned with what and how the PNB transports the 1,381 kg of gold,” said Singhal at a crowded press conference in Tiruapti, some 180 km from here. He added that only after the PNB deposited the gold with the TTD treasury as per the laid down norms and procedures of the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India that it will become the responsibility of the TTD as to what to do with the said gold.
“We had written to PNB on the maturity of our gold deposit in March and we were to get the gold back on April 18. But we got it only on April 20,” Singhal said adding that it is now the responsibility of the TTD to decide what to do with the returned gold deposit. “A big issue has been made out of our failure on responsibility to provide security to our gold. I want to make it very clear that it was the duty of the PNB and how it dealt with it. Only after we receive the gold, it becomes our responsibility,” the top TTD official said.
Amidst speculations and allegations that the gold belonging to TTD was being siphoned away, the Andhra Pradesh government ordered an inquiry into alleged lapses in release and transportation of the gold belonging to TTD. Tamil Nadu police seized 1,381 kg of gold in the state four days ago.
Singhal said he welcomed the inquiry ordered by the Andhra Pradesh government and said “TTD is an open book. Any document requested by media, even without RTI, will be shared with media colleagues,” Singhal said adding that there was nothing wrong in the manner the issue was handled by the TTD and its officials.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary LV Subrahmanyam on Sunday asked Special Chief Secretary, Revenue, Manmohan Singh to find out “the specific lapses, if any,” on the part of Punjab National Bank (PNB) and TTD, which runs the richest temple of Tirupati.
The inquiry will also go into the specific instructions of the EO and the role of vigilance wing of the TTD in the whole episode.
The transport of the gold from the PNB’s Chennai branch triggered a controversy as the gold and the truck carrying it, was seized by the Election Commission officials in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvallur on April 17, a day before polling in Tamil Nadu. The gold, said to be worth over Rs 400 crore, was being brought to the temple treasury in Tirupati.