The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the body which oversees the Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala, unveiled a budget of Rs 3,116 crore for 2019-20 and said that it was expected just cash offerings to account for Rs 1,231 crore of the total amount.
Speaking to reporters, TTD chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav said that according to their estimates, the sale of tickets could fetch around Rs 292 crore, while the famed laddu prasadam may help the religious body rake in around Rs 270 crore. According to the TTD's website, every day on an average, about 3 lakh laddus are sold in Tirumala. The sale of hair, which devotees offer to the presiding deity, is another avenue for income for the TTD, estimated to fetch around Rs 100 crore. The TTD chairman also said that around Rs 625 crore would be spent on paying the salaries of the staff who worked in the premises of the temple.
The TTD had approved an annual budget of Rs 2,858 crore for 2017-18 and have stated that the temple's earnings during 2018-19 are expected to be around Rs 2,894 crore, of which the offerings in temple 'Hundi' are likely to be Rs 1,156 crore.
During the financial year 2016-17, the TTD said that 2.68 crore devotees visited the shrine and a budget of Rs 2,678 crore was approved. As the TTD deals with such a large amount of public money, devotees have contended that there should be more transparency in how the funds are spent by the body.
A legal battle is also presently underway to determine if the TTD comes under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, with the TTD arguing that it was not a 'public authority'. The TTD spelled out its stand in October last year in a petition, after it moved the court over orders by the Central Information Commission (CIC), to divulge certain information to an RTI applicant.
The petitioner, BKSR Ayyangar, had filed an RTI application with the Prime Minister's office in 2017 asking for information on ornaments donated to the temple by 16th-century ruler Sri Krishnadevaraya, which were allegedly 'missing'. Unsatisfied with the response he received, the petitioner approached the Commission in April this year.