The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has cracked the whip on middlemen indulging in blackmarketing of ‘arjitha seva' tickets.

The modus-operandi of these middlemen, who are highly connected and serve as public relations officers of reputed firms at Tirumala is interesting.

They enter into clandestine agreement with some ‘insiders' in the TTD, including top officials, and reserve the much-sought-after arjitha seva tickets like - Suprabhatam, Thomala and Archana -- in advance and sell them to devotees at an exorbitant rates.

To check the growing menace of middlemen, the TTD management has made it ‘mandatory' for the devotees participating in the ‘arjitha sevas' including Vastram and Abhishekam to produce some kind of identity proof at the time of their entry into the Vaikuntam-I queue complex through which they have to pass to reach the main temple.

Further, devotees, including VIPs who secure the seva tickets under the ‘discretionary' quota provided on day-to-day basis, will also be required to produce their identity proof. The new system is supposed to be strictly enforced from June 1.

Although the new system was to be implemented from May 14, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Executive Officer I. Y. R. Krishna Rao preferred June 1 to provide time for the new system to be known to visiting pilgrims.

He has instructed the officials to be little flexible until the devotees get accustomed to the new system.

An officer of the cadre of Deputy Executive officer will be given the responsibility of verifying the ‘authenticity' of the seva tickets.

The TTD had earlier declared that devotees will be allowed to participate in any of the prime ‘pre dawn' rituals with family members not exceeding five only once in a calendar year.

In case, the devotee has booked more arjitha seva tickets in a calendar year, all the tickets will be cancelled and the amount refunded through a demand draft.

This will also be applicable to Vastram and Abhishekam tickets which are in great demand.

The temple management is despatching a detailed letter about the new system to all those who have reserved for more than one seva or more than five tickets of each seva in an year.