Andhra Pradesh

Arjitha Seva tickets scam rocks TTD

Even as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTS) is grappling with the legal battle over the controversial ‘Anantha Swarnamayam' project, yet another row has surfaced in the form of a major scam in the sale of the prime Arjitha Seva tickets (paid sevas), allegedly involving some ‘insiders'.

While the TTD's vigilance authorities have been on a discreet probe into the scandal on the basis of prima facie evidence confirming the operation of a racket in the sale of Arjitha Seva tickets, especially the sought-after ‘Vasthralankara' ticket, what touched off a furore was reports in the vernacular print and electronic media which eventually caught the attention of Chief Minister K. Rosaiah.

Apparently shocked over the magnitude of the scam, the Chief Minister spoke to TTD Executive Officer I.Y.R. Krishna Rao over phone on Thursday to get a first hand report on the operation of the well-entrenched racket which according to preliminary reports involved a sum of Rs.125 crore. Besides asking the E.O. to expedite the probe and bring to book all those involved, Mr. Rosaiah also suggested certain guidelines which were to be strictly followed with ‘immediate effect' in the sale of Arjitha Seva tickets.

“We are immediately enforcing all the prescriptions of the Chief Minister,” said Mr. Krishna Rao at a hurriedly convened press conference on today to explain the fire-fighting measures being initiated by the TTD to rationalise the sale of prime tickets and also to go on the trail of the scamsters.

Modus operandi

According to preliminary investigations, the modus operandi of the racket, comprising influential middlemen, politicians, representatives of some leading industrial houses besides some TTD ‘insiders' had been to buy tickets on benami names of all the prime sevas such as Vasthralankara Seva, Abhishekam, Thomala, Archana, Suprabhatham etc from out of the 50 per cent ‘discretionary quota' earmarked for VVIPs, using their clout with the powers that be in the TTD, allegedly on a quid pro quo basis.

Prices

The worst-hit was the sale of Friday ‘Vasthram' tickets whose price was only Rs.12,500 if officially booked in advance (it is already booked up to the year 2032) and Rs. 50,000 if officially sold out of the ‘discretionary quota'. This was said to be the breeding source for the scam.

Reports said the price of the ticket secured under ‘discretionary quota' used to go as high as Rs.1.25 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakh depending on the demand and the ‘soundness' of the ‘party'. Same was the case with other tickets.

Photo ID card

The EO said as pointed out by the Chief Minister, the TTD would henceforth insist on production of photo ID card by the ticket holders for all the Arjitha Sevas including ‘Abhishekam' so that ‘proxy' system was curbed.

As another measure, each devotee would be issued the prime Vasthram ticket only once a year and tickets already booked by the same devotee more than once in a year would be cancelled immediately.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 7:53:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/Arjitha-Seva-tickets-scam-rocks-TTD/article16298981.ece

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