Hyderabad: Major temples in Telangana State are plagued by gross financial irregularities, as no proper auditing of the accounts is done. The joint inquiry conducted by endowments and vigilance departments revealed financial irregularities in prominent temples in Yadagirigutta, Bhadrachalam, Vemulawada and Dharmapuri.
Temple office-bearers and staff in these temples resorted to bogus bill claims and siphoned off funds donated to temples by not maintaining proper records of contributions made by devotees by way of donations.
The inquiry report was submitted at the time of bifurcation of AP last year, and the TS government is sitting on the report for the past 17 months without initiating any action against erring temple staff. Worse, attempts are being made to save the erring staff by not disclosing the inquiry details and trying to give a quiet burial to the inquiry report.
Endowments minister A. Indrakaran Reddy said, “There was some de-lay in acting on the inquiry report due to technical reasons. There is no question of sparing anyone who indulged in rule violations. Since Telangana was newly-formed when the report was submitted, the government could not give much attention to it. For one, there were no full-time officials. There was not even a full-time endowments minister. I took charge only in January this year.”
The minister added that the endowments department started verifying the financial statements and purchases done by each and every temple since May this year and the process was ongoing.
“We verified Basar temple records and found no major irregularity. However, there are complaints on some other major temples in the state and verification is currently on,” Mr Reddy said.
The vigilance inquiry found that the officials and staff in all the major temples manipulated financial records and claimed refunds on bogus bills or inflated bills. The irregularities pertained mainly to ‘prasadam’ preparation. There are vast differences between the market prices of ingredients purchased and the prices quoted.
Fictitious bills were produced without making purchases, too, the inquiry found. Besides, temple staff siphoned off funds donated to temples by devotees. This was done by manipulation of records. Major temples are spending a major chunk of funds on prasadam and annadanam and temples are earning good revenue through sale of prasadam and through donations received for annadanam. Despite this, temple officials are claiming ‘losses’ by not maintaining proper records. There was only namesake auditing.
Committees appointed staff by taking bribes
Big temple committees were found to have been involved in recruitment scams, according to a joint inquiry conducted by the Endowments and Vigilance departments.
It came to light that committee members had misused their powers by appointing persons of their choice by taking bribes without considering the requisite qualifications or reservations.
Employees who secured such postings were also subsequently promoted to higher levels and transferred to the Endowments department. This has now led to a tussle between the staff of Endowments department and temples. The committees of temples earning revenues of `10 lakh per year were authorised to make appointments in temples on their own by following due procedures.
However, it was found that the committees were appointing staff — from attenders, stenographers, computer operators to office assistants — of their choice without adopting proper selection procedure based on merit. The inquiry found that these posts were put up for sale and some committee members earned lakhs by making appointments, giving promotions later and transferring them to the Endowments department as full-fledged government employees.
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