Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam, also known as Kanaka Durga temple, here is not immune to ‘COVID-19 impact.’ But, the temple administration, apparently, managed to escape from it. The temple administration has managed to deposit ₹4 crore as a fixed deposit despite steep fall in revenues.
According to information, Kanaka Durga temple revenues plummeted to mere ₹45.90 crore (from April to December 2020) compared to ₹122.88 crore during the corresponding period in 2019 financial year. The temple witnessed the ‘worst phase’ of the pandemic in June last. The temple received just ₹64 lakh, which was the lowest income of any month in 2020. It was not even one tenth of last financial year's corresponding month income of ₹10.70 crore.
When contacted, Kanaka Durga temple Executive Officer (EO) M.V. Suresh Babu says that the drop in the number of pilgrims has had a consequent effect on the revenue of the temple which has seen a substantial drop in the offerings by devotees in Hundi, a cash chest of the temple, where devotees drop money. Though there is a slight increase in visits by devotees as compared to June, monthly revenues of the temple have not improved significantly. It was double digit revenue all through the financial year, 2019. In comparison, the revenues were single digit during all the months except October, 2020. The surge in income was solely due to Dasara festivities, he feels.
Mr. Suresh Babu says that the temple management adopted ‘prudent fiscal measures’ to tide over the crisis. For instance, expenditure on firecrackers during the Dasara festival was avoided. The temple managed to pay the salaries to the tune of ₹ 2.80 crore and management fee of ₹1 crore. Also, cleared all the dues such as common good fund (CGF) to the Endowments Department. "The temple has ₹140 crore as FDRs (fixed deposit receipts) and ₹365 crore of Annadanam fund,” he says.
With social distancing being enforced strictly, devotees are allowed darshan to avoid crowding. The devotee footfall used to be 20,000 to 25,000 per day. Now, it has come down to about 10,000 per day on normal days. The devotee rush used to be more than 1.25 lakh during Bhavani deeksha. The rush was not even 50,000 this season. “Despite the odds, we are able to take up developmental works. The government has recently sanctioned ₹70 crore for various works,” he adds.