Special Correspondent

It has waived Rs.31,13,805 due from Dhanlaxmi Bank

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Local Fund Audit Department has described as illegitimate the waiver given to Dhanlaxmi Bank by the Travancore Devaswom Board of a huge amount obtained from the sale of prasadam during the last Mandalam and Makaravilakku festivals.

In its report submitted to the High Court, the department wanted the court to direct the Devaswom Board to realise Rs.31,13,805 from the bank with an interest of 18 per cent an annum. The department informed the court that the final account of the sale of coupons and remittances made had not been produced by the bank for verification in the audit. The report pointed out that till last year, the board was directly collecting the sale of proceeds of the ‘vazhipadu prasadams' which included ‘appam', ‘aravana' and ‘modakam'. The income was increasing considerably every year and the proceeds were remitted directly in Dhanlaxmi Bank by the board. It was to conduct the sale process in a more advanced manner and minimise the expenses that the board decided to entrust the bank with the sale of coupons and the distribution of prasadam during the last festival season. It executed an agreement with the bank on October 10, 2008, under which the latter agreed to open an account for pooling the sale proceeds of the prasadam in the Sasthamangalam branch.

When the festival was over, there was a balance amount of Rs.31,13,805 with the bank. Even after repeated demands, the bank did not remit the amount notwithstanding the fact that there was a condition in the agreement under which the bank was liable to pay an interest of 18 per cent an annum if it defaulted on payment. Instead it put forward a claim of Rs.31,69,950 as the wages paid to daily wagers deployed by it at the prasadam distribution centres at Sabarimala, Pampa and Erumeli. The department pointed out that there was no clause in the agreement regarding deployment of daily wage employees by the bank and the footing of their wages by the board. It was because of that the Devaswom Commissioner's recommendation for reimbursing the wages of the daily wagers was rejected by the then board on April 20, 2009.