6 years back, when the secret wallets of the Anatha Padmanabha Swamy temple were opened on orders of court, the entire country was shocked to see the amount of treasure the temple had which exceeded 90,000 crores. The moment the value was declared, the politicians had an eye on the temple and are constantly trying to take control over the temple.
They made many futile attempts to bring the temple under the government’s ambit which will give them free access to the enormous wealth of the temple. Knowing the ulterior motive of the politicians, there was huge resistance from the devotees who protested against government taking over control of Ananta Padmanabaswamy temple.
But in the recent past, many locals complained about the officials and administrative officers and politicians involvement in looting the temple’s wealth secretly. But now a shocking report has emerged which says that 769 pots of gold which is worth around 186 crore. The story was reported by India Today in which it disclosed a report submitted by the former Comptroller and Auditor general, Vinod Rai to the Supreme Court which hints at 186 crore worth of gold missing from the temple. This indicated that the gold and the wealth of the temple was being looted by unknown members.
The report submitted to the Supreme Court has been compiled in two volumes and five parts running into 1,000 pages.
According to Rai’s report, if 822 gold pots were melted to meet the requirements of gold for ornamental works at the palace, then there should have been at least 1,166 gold pots left in the treasury. But the numbers assigned to gold pots by the expert committee were only 397.
The discrepancy is of 769 gold pots with an aggregate weight of 776 kg approximately valued at Rs 186 Cr.
572.86 g of gold and 2589 grams of silver with an aggregate value of Rs 14.78 lakhs which were received through the hundials while counting has not been entered in the Nadavaravu register.
Out of 22 silver bars taken out of the B vault in Dec 2002, 16 were issued for renovation work. “There were 5 big silver bars weighing an average of 35 kg”, according to the report submitted by Amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam. Therefore it would mean that there was a shortage of 1 silver bar of Rs 14 lakh.
The temple did not have a system of ascertaining the weight and purity of gold and silver articles before handing it over to the contractors for ornamentation works. There was a lack of transparency in Kanikka counting. Kanikka registers from Dec 2006 to Nov 2008 were not made available to the special audits authority for scrutiny.
From the vaults C and E which were opened in Aug 2007, 1022 articles including 397 gold pots were photographed. Pots bearing numbers from 1,000 have been used. During his inspection at the Padmanabha Swamy temple, Rai found that one of the pots bearing the number 1988 was taken out. “This means that there were at least 1988 gold pots available in various kallaras.” Rai mentions in his report that he did not find any album or the photographs or negatives of the items chronicled.
No records have been found on 2.11 acres of land that was sold in 1970, implying it could be an illegal sale.
Vinod Rai’s audit has been done for the period between 2004-2014. In 2014, Amicus curiae Gopal Subramaniam who had been entrusted with the inspection of the Padmanabha Swamy temple said in his report that a gold plating machine was found in the premises. He was also of the opinion that the gold and other ornaments stored inside vaults in the temple were being pilfered and fake gold was being put in their place.
Rai’s report has been comprehensive and he has also made the observation that there has been an “abnormal” increase in expenditure at the temple and he has recommended a committee to probe into these irregularities. India Today Report.
Following this, Vinod Rai recommended that
Set up an administrative committee consisting of a retired IAS officer, representative of the Travancore royal family, representative of the Devaswom board, thantry (chief priest) of the temple, 2 prominent citizens who are devotees and an executive officer appointed by the Kerala Government.
Tenure of the members may be fixed at 3 years.
This committee will propose and pass the annual budget for the temple.
This committee will supervise all activities within the temple and be made accountable for all functioning.
The audit authority has given a large number of recommendations on accounting norms and maintenance of records.
It is indeed sad that our temple’s money is being looted like this in broad day light by filthy politicians and bureaucrats and the investigative agencies have become helpless. The politicians have considered temples as their piggy banks from where they think they can take money however they want and use it for their political gimmicks.
There should be a country wide law to take care of temple administration which will release all temple from government control.