Failure to respond in time put the institution in a spot

The seizure of 1,381 kg of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams gold by election officials in Chennai last week kicked up a storm with some on social media alleging that there was something fishy about the episode. There was even a demand that the matter be probed by either the CBI or a sitting judge.

The TTD, which has received a bad publicity, seems to have followed the guidelines on the release of its gold deposits.

The devasthnams had deposited 1,311 kg of the yellow metal with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) way back on April 17, 2016, for a period of three years under the short-term gold monetisation scheme introduced by the Central government at an interest of 1.75 % which was to be paid in the form of gold by the bank on maturity on April 19, 2019. The gold earned in the form of interest aggregated to 70 kg.

Under the agreement reached, the responsibility of safeguarding the gold and returning it lay with the PNB. The TTD, on its part, was required to pay a commission of 1.5% to the PNB which worked out to about ₹4 crore

Utter confusion

The TTD’s financial sub-committee, which met on March 20, discussed the issue threadbare and resolved to withdraw the gold deposits with an intention to explore ways and means that would work to advantage of the institution.

Accordingly on March 27, a communication was sent to the PNB seeking return of the gold. Utter confusion prevailed on the day the gold was seized with some TTD officials refusing to confirm whether the gold belonged to the TTD or not.

Their failure to respond in time landed the TTD in a spot and Chief Secretary L.V. Subrahmanyam ordered Special Chief Secretary, Revenue (Land and Endowments) Manmohan Singh to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the reported lapses in the release and transportation of gold.

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