Devotees exploited in Dwaraka Tirumala, Satya Deva temples

Vendors blame \'high rates\' for auction of shops by temple authorities

KAKINADA: Vendors at the Lord Sri Venkateswara temple in Dwaraka in West Godavari district and the Lord Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Murthy Swamy temple at Annavaram in East Godavari district are exploiting devotees by increasing the prices to abnormally high levels.

As the Sankranti rush has started, the vendors are bent on making a fast buck. They are selling items well above the prices fixed by the temple authorities and much above the MRP of various products. Devotees have no choice in the matter.

The prices for bottled water, cool drinks and coconuts have gone up. A one-litre water bottle is sold by the vendors at Rs 25 instead of the normal Rs 15 to Rs 20 and a 200 ML bottle of cool drink at Rs 50. Many products, in particular toys, have no MRP on them and they sold at Rs 150 to Rs 250 instead of the usual Rs 50 per item.

Vendors told DC that they have got the shops at auction for higher amounts this time and hence are charging more than the MRP to make up for this extra spend.

However, according to officials of the weights and measure department and endowment department, they should not sell the products above MRP or at more than the prices fixed by the temple authorities.

“The devotees are being exploited at the Satya Deva temple at Annavaram. The vendors are collecting higher charges. The temple authorities can’t take any step though their shops are beside the executive officer’ s office,’’ said a devotee from Visakhapatnam, N Ravi Kumar. He felt the temple authorities are not keen on checking such practices.

Though plenty of coconuts are available in the Godavari districts, the vendors in these temples are selling them at abnormal prices and the coconuts are cheaper in Tirumala hills. According to a local person Appa Rao, while the Annavaram Satya Deva temple authorities fixed Rs 180 per six coconuts along with bananas and flowers, the vendor is selling it at Rs 250; or each coconut at Rs 30.

The devotees have appealed to the government to curb such exploitation and take action against officials in the temples who failed to act.

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