THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has sought financial help from the state government to tide over the COVID-19 crisis. The board suffered losses to the tune of Rs 200 crore since March 25, when the nationwide lockdown came into effect.
TDB president N Vasu told TNIE that it has sought a Rs 160-crore aid from the government. "The government had granted Rs 10 crore in May. This, along with previous savings and some reallocation helped us to meet the salary and pension payments for that month. Somehow we can manage the expenses for June as well but not any further," he said.
The TDB requires Rs 40 crore every month for salary and pension payments. The board has around 5,000 employees and less than 4,000 pensioners. An additional Rs 10 crore is needed for the purchase of pooja materials and establishment costs like power and water charges.
At present, devotees are barred entry at all the 1,248 shrines under the TDB. The board will meet at the end of this month to decide on the reopening. But the reopening will not help the board on the revenue front, Vasu said.
"Even if the shrines are opened to the public, entry will be restricted to maintain social distancing. Also, the ban on people outside the 10- 65 age group would continue. The revenue would be nowhere near the previous normal," he said.
The government, in the 2019-20 Budget, had announced Rs 100 crore for the TDB to make up for the revenue loss at the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple due to the women entry issue.
Of this, Rs 40 crore was received. The balance amount of Rs 60 crore and a fresh aid of Rs 100 crore have been requested now. "We may not get the full amount considering the government’s constraints. But it has assured maximum possible assistance," Vasu said.