Shocking pilferage of devotees’ offerings at Sabarimala

via Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on November 21, 2007

The allegations of pilferage of offerings to Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala have upset the devotees as this is said to be because of the failure of the Travancore Dewaswom Board (TDB) to introduce a perfect mechanised system for sorting and counting coins and currency notes.

Sources in the TDB told The Pioneer that a huge amount is being smuggled out from the Sabarimala temple’s revenue-counting chamber during the pilgrimage season and rough estimates puts this around Rs 3-crore in a season. The counting chamber is of 1,000 sq ft in area and the presence of pillars within the room allows employees to evade the eyes of the closed circuit TV cameras and smuggle the money out, say sources.

It is said that denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 and foreign currencies, which are offered to the lord are being smuggled out by hiding them in the rectum using loose threads, which are available in the counting chamber. There are also apprehensions that the guards and other officials who are working at the Sannidhanam get a fair share of this money.

TDB higher-ups maintain that monitoring the employees is a difficult task in a small room and this, according to sources, is a mode of escapism on the part of the Dewaswom officials.

A top-ranking police officer, who was in duty at Sabarimala Sannidhanam as special officer, told The Pioneer, “Top officers of the TDB are delaying a Vigilance report which had recommended the mechanisation of the counting process. If the Cochin Dewaswom board can implement it why can’t the TDB?” he asked.

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