Sabarimala prasadam rates likely to go up

Hit hard by the COVID-19 induced lockdown that has been extended in different phases, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) looks to revise the rates for offerings in the temples governed by it.

According to officials, the special committee led by the TDB Commissioner has kick started the procedure for revising the rates for various offerings, which will come into effect upon receiving a nod from the Kerala high Court. The proposal, which follows a move by the Board to sell out its excess stock of utensils and vessels, envisages an upward revision of these rates by ₹ 5 to ₹ 20.

Confirming the proposal, TDB president N. Vasu, meanwhile, said that it had nothing to do with the financial crisis experienced by the agency but aimed to account for the actual rates of materials used in these offerings. “It has been almost five years since we effected a rate hike while the cost of materials has gone up so much over the period,” he said.

As to the extent by which the prices will go up, he said it was too premature to comment as the matter was still under consideration of the HC appointed committee.

Official sources, however, said the rate hike was part of an action plan by the TDB to bridge an ever- widening gap between its revenue and expenditure. “A hike in the rate of offerings such as Aravana and Appam in Sabarimala, which are expected to go up by ₹20 and ₹15 respectively, will help offset the mounting losses due to a decline in footfalls,” pointed out a senior official.

The restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 disrupted the TDB's economic model as it has suffered a loss of over ₹600 crore since March last year. The income from Sabarimala, which used to be the board's main stay for long fell to ₹21 crore during the last pilgrimage season as against ₹270 in the previous year.

With the uncertainty over the length of the pandemic-induced disruptions exacerbating the fears of a financial disaster, the Board is exploring ways to diversify its finances while rationalizing the expenditure by cutting down new vacancies.

During the previous fiscal, the TDB received a financial assistance of ₹90 crore from the state government. In July this year, it received yet another tranche of ₹10 crore from the state.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 8:06:59 AM |

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