Aided by an unprecedented rush of devotees in the final leg of the annual pilgrimage season, the revenue from the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple soared to ₹351 crore even as more heaps of coins remain to be counted and deposited.
Although coins to the tune of ₹20 crore are left to be sorted, the Travancore Devaswom Board has decided to relieve its staff at the vault of the counting duty as many of them have developed health issues. The process, which is slated to resume on February 5, will only be completed in due course.
“In view of the complaints regarding the health issues caused by lack of adequate rest, the Board has decided to give a break to the staff assigned to count the coins. In fact, they had been working continuously for the past 70 days,” Mr. Ananthagopan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Board had informed the Devaswom Bench of the Kerala High Court that it would not be able to submit the final revenue details from Sabarimala by the initial deadline of January 25.
The Board had faced a similar challenge during the 2017-18 season but had received assistance from Dhanlaxmi Bank then, which brought in machines to segregate and count the coins. This time, the Board has decided to do the counting process manually so as to avoid any prospective losses.
The board proceedings that detail the responsibilities of the special officers deployed for various tasks say that the Bhandaram Special Officer should take steps to ensure that those deployed on duty for counting and sorting are efficiently performing their tasks and should close the accounts everyday.
Aravana without cardamom
Meanwhile, the TDB is also considering a proposal to manufacture aravana, a key offering at Sabarimala, without cardamom in view of the complaints on the quality of the spice. “Each of these materials are subjected to testing at the food safety lab in Pampa. The board does not have a food safety license but is willing to take one if required,” added Mr. Ananthagopan.