TIRUPATI: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has increased the price of Srivari Prasadam (laddu and vada) sold to those carrying recommendation slips. Even the price of additional laddus that pilgrims buy from the counter has gone up. However, the price of laddus that pilgrims are allowed to buy in addition to free ones on darshan tickets remains unchanged. Apart from a free laddu, two laddus are given to a pilgrim on a subsidised price of Rs 10. The move sparked criticism from all quarters.
The TTD said that the price hike would affect only certain organizations who procure Laddu Prasadam for certain rituals, utsavams and weddings. On Thursday additional laddus that were sold at Vazhapadi on discretionary quota to select people, including TTD staff, were sold at Rs 50, double the normal price of Rs 25.
Last month, the office of the temple deputy executive officer issued a circular stating that the price of laddus supplied to organizations for conducting religious functions, Srinivasa/Govinda kalyanams, Vaibhavotsavam and other rituals in association with TTD outside Tirumala was increased. However, on Thursday, the price of laddus sold under discretionary quota was suddenly hiked. When the reports about the circular on price hike appeared in a section of the media in November, TTD quickly denied taking any such decision. But on Thursday, the reports about laddu price hike proved true. When contacted, TTD joint executive officer KS Srinivasa Raju said the decision was taken to cover a part of the loss TTD suffers in supplying laddus to pilgrim at a subsided price.
He said TTD was suffering a revenue loss of Rs 250 crore every year. “The production cost of each laddu comes to `37.33, but TTD sells it at `25 apart from providing free prasadam to pilgrims. So we were compelled to increase the price to cover the loss,” he said. According to officials, after the increase in the price of laddu sold under discretionary quota, TTD could earn a profit of anywhere between `15 crore and `23 crore. On an average, TTD prepares 3 lakh laddus every day and 60,000 pilgrims are given a free laddu each after darshan and are allowed to buy additional two laddus at a subsidy price of `10 each.
However, the TTD price hike decision has not gone down well with devotees as well employees. “It is not proper on the part of TTD to hike the price of laddu all of a sudden,” said Kalyani, a pilgrims who visited the hill shrine on Thursday. Most of the pilgrims make it a point to purchase additional laddus for distributing among their relatives and friends when they return home after darshan. “They have a right to increase the price, but it should have been done after a prior intimation,” opined a TTD employee.
New price of laddu (Srivari Prasadam) is applicable to those sold under discretionary quota and those purchased by pilgrims in addition to what they get free after having darshan of the Lord. No change in the price of laddu issued to pilgrims at the queue complex and laddus provided to pilgrims after Divya Darshan
J25 laddu cost increased to J50
J100 big laddu price increased to J200
J25 vada now costs J100