N.J. Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the president and members of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) engaged in a war of words to exert their authority, the functioning of the Accounts and Vigilance wings has virtually come to a halt owing to lack of coordination.

Board sources told The Hindu that the preparation of the budget, scheduled to be completed by March 31, was moving at a snail’s pace. The income and expenditure entries have not tallied for the last 18 years, “due to sheer laxity in correcting the discrepancies from time to time.”

The government had deputed three officers from the Accountant-General’s Office consecutively for eight years and now a seven-member team headed by the Local Fund Audit Deputy Director is trying to streamline the accounts. Discrepancies amounting to Rs. 8 crore were reportedly detected in the income and expenditure statement. The delay in rectifying the lapses in the accounts was likely to derail the financial management of the board, sources said.

The Vigilance and Security wing headed by a Superintendent of Police, a sub-inspector and five constables too has become virtually inactive. Though the board incurs an annual expenditure of around Rs.60 lakh for maintaining the Vigilance wing, little has been done so far to prevent corruption and malpractices in the temple administration, sources said.

The Vigilance wing has confined its function to conducting surprise checks to detect irregularities in the attendance register of the temple staff. Rules have it that the offering boxes in temples should be opened and counted in their presence to avoid theft of money and valuables. They are also expected to monitor and conduct periodical inspection of the purchase of pooja materials in various temples. The team should also find out whether the Devaswom officials in temples are issuing receipts to devotees for performing the poojas. There are complaints that poojas are performed without issuing the receipts.

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