People are allowed to continue visiting the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji temple, a top official of the temple’s board said on Friday (July 17) amid a controversy over priests and employees getting infected by the novel coronavirus.
The temple’s board decided to re-open it on June 11, in line with the Centre’s “Unlock” plans to ensure a phased exit from the lockdown for the country.
There are no plans to stop public darshan at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji temple, said YV Subba Reddy, chairperson of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Board. He said there was no evidence of pilgrims testing positive for coronavirus, according to NDTV.
“We have no plan to close Tirumala temple. Senior priests will not be put on duty. Priests and employees have requested separate accommodation,” NDTV quoted Reddy as saying, who added that a separate facility for making food for the employees will be set up.
As many as 140 staff members of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) that governs Lord Venkateswara’s shrine at Tirumala have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 11.
Speaking to reporters, Reddy said 14 archakas (assistant priests), 16 workers in laddu-making kitchens and 56 security personnel were among the infected.
Of the 140 affected, 70 were discharged and the rest being provided treatment, he said.
However, the TTD would continue to allow entry of devotees less than 12,000 in number into the temple daily, he added.
The honorary chief priest, Ramana Dikshitulu, too raised concern over priests and employees testing positive. “@ysjagan 15 out of 50 archakas carona +ve quarantined. Still 25 results awaited. TTD EO and AEO refuse to stop darshans. Obediently following anti hereditary archaka and anti brahmin policy of TDP and CBN. Disaster if this continues. Please take action,” he tweeted, tagging Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Reddy, however, said the honorary chief priest should have given his suggestions to the TTD Board instead of putting them out on social media.