The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which administers the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara among others, Monday claimed there were no lapses on its part leading to the recent seizure of 1,381 kg gold belonging to it in Tamil Nadu by election officials.
TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal denied media reports the temple body did not follow proper procedure in getting back the gold deposited with a bank and said it might have been due to non-production of supporting documents by the bank officials.
It was not the responsibility of the TTD to transport the gold from its treasury to any bank or vice-versa, he told reporters here.
His comments came a day after the Andhra Pradesh government ordered an inquiry into security and procedural lapses in the transportation of the gold which led to its seizure on April 17 near Tiruvallur, about 50 km from Chennai, a day ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu.
Election flying squad intercepted a van and found 1,381 kgs of gold. The occupants of the vehicle had stated that the gold belonged to the TTD and was being transported to Tirupati from the Punjab National Bank (PNB) in Chennai after the end of three-year deposit period.
The gold was subsequently released after verification of facts but the TTD came under criticism over the manner in which the entire issue was handled.
Singhal said the PNB officials initially might not have produced proper documents to prove that the gold belonged to the TTD resulting in the seizure.
However, they got the gold released after submitting proper documents to Election Commission officials later and transported it to the TTD treasury on April 20, he said.
Replying to a question, Singhal said TTD did not intervene in the matter as it was not in its domain and the issue was resolved by the bank.
Besides the returned 1,381 kg gold, the TTD has deposited 1,938 kg of the precious metal with the Indian Overseas Bank and 5,387 kg with the State Bank Of India.
All these are in the form of 24 carat pure gold, converted from 22 carat jewells offered by the devotees, he said.
Also, about 550 kg of gold jewellery with stones offered by devotees in the Hundis was with the TTD, Singhal said.
These excluded the large number of ancient, very precious and big gold ornaments meant for the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara which would always be within the hill shrine, another official told PTI.
State Chief Secretary L V Subrahmanyam has directed Special Chief Secretary (Revenue) Manmohan Singh to visit Tirumala, conduct the inquiry and submit a report by Tuesday.
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