Four years after demonetisation, the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh has ended up with Rs 50 crore demonetised cash collected as offerings from devotees that the temple authorities are unable to utilise. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) chairman YV Subba Reddy met with Union Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday requesting permission to deposit the banned currency notes with the banks and also sought exemption from Goods and Service Tax (GST) on the services of Special Protection Force (SPF).
"Though the Central government had demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8, 2016, devotees continued to offer demonetised notes," said a TTD official.
As a result, the temple in southern Andhra Pradesh received 1.8 lakh notes of Rs 1,000, amounting to Rs 18 crore, and 6.34 lakh notes of Rs 500, amounting to Rs 31.7 crore. All the offered demonetised notes amounted to a total of around Rs 50 crore.
The TTD chairman had sought exemption from GST for SPF services from April 1 to September 2020. Subba Reddy informed the FM that the exemption will help the TTD pursue social, economic and spiritual activities, reported The New Indian Express.
Though replete with old cash, Tirupati, one of the richest temples in the world, could not make use of it as scrapped notes have stopped being a legal tender for four years already. The temple kept receiving the banned currency in its Srivari hundi.
Unable to monetise the huge amount of delegitimised cash, Subba Reddy, has requested the Union Finance Minister to enable the temple to deposit the old money with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or any other commercial banks to monetise that amount.
"Once monetised, TTD will use it to fund several spiritual and welfare activities," the official said.
Regarding the old notes, TTD had already written to the Union Finance Ministry and the RBI in 2017 but did not receive a favourable response.
"As this issue is linked to the faith and sentiments of the devotees, Subba Reddy requested Sitharaman for a favourable outcome, enabling the temple to deposit the money with the RBI or any other bank," the official said.
Reddy has asked the Finance Minister for favourable instructions in this regard.
The TTD chairman said that the temple could not stop the devotees from offering old notes as it is linked with their faith and religious sentiments.
TTD is a conglomeration of 12 temples and their sub-shrines. It employs 14,000 people. Spread over 16.2 acres, the main Tirumala temple is dedicated to Lord Sri Venkateswara, also known as Srinivasa, Balaji and Venkatachalapati.