There is no gold or silver missing from the strong room of the Sabarimala temple, clarified Travancore Devaswom President A Padmakumar in a press meet held on Monday. Padmakumar’s statement came in response to complaints that gold and silver offered by devotees to the temple had gone had allegedly gone missing.
‘An audit was conducted in the Aranmula strong room of Sabarimala and 10,413 items were inspected. According to the Executive Officer’s report, there were no indications of gold or silver missing from the temple,” Padmakumar said in his press meet.
Complaints that records of 40 kgs of gold and 100 kgs of silver offered to the temple since 2017 were missing had triggered a big controversy.
As per the temple protocol, patrons or devotees receive a 3A receipt after donating items. These details are then recorded in a register of the temple. When these items are moved to the strong rooms for storing, it is again recorded in the register. The ‘missing’ records for the 40 kg of gold and 100 kg of silver was what prompted a fresh audit of items.
At 10 am on Monday, a high court-appointed audit team, led by senior auditor Pratap Kumar, inspected the Mahasar records of the items. Nine documents, including strong room records, were submitted for inspection at the executive office.
According to Padmakumar, all 10,413 items were audited. Out of these 5,270 audits were done by the TDB earlier.
“When a senior officer retires, the person who replaces him has to be briefed and handed over all the records. This has not been happening in Sabarimala for several years. There were some serious lapses within the TDB,” Padmakumar disclosed.
The TDB president also added that the board will bring about reforms within the temple management.
“We are discussing the possibilities of digitising the records of the temple. These are age-old records and manually auditing them is difficult. Sometimes lapses in recording the offerings happen unintentionally; sometimes they are intentional. However, replacing the missing items are not enough. We are contemplating registering criminal cases against officers who commit such lapses,” he said.
Padmakumar also added that irregularities occur when parts of delicate items made of gold chips off when taken out for use after a long time. “Sometimes parts of the items come off and they are replaced with iron instead. This is wrong, but irregularities happen in such a manner as well,” he said.
Regarding the controversy, the TDB president added that the allegations were entirely baseless.
“These reports should never have surfaced in the first place. They are without any basis,” he said.