TIRUPATI: A total of 743 employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) tested positive for COVID-19 after the temple was opened for darshan to devotees following relaxation of lockdown norms.
TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singh, who interacted with pilgrims and devotees from various parts of the country as part of Dial Your EO programme, said that since the Srivari temple opened for darshan to devotees on June 11, so far, 743 TTD employees tested positive for COVID-19 and of them 402 have recovered and joined duties. Another 338 are undergoing teatment in TTD rest houses-turned-COVID centres at Srinivasam, Vishnunivasam and Madhavam.
“Only three employees succumbed to the virus and we are giving best possible arrangements and treatment to all our employees in the COVID centres,'' he said.
The EO said following COVID guidelines prescribed by the Central and State Governments, the TTD resumed darshan for pilgrims from June 11 onwards.
“Initially everyone appreciated the move of TTD. But as soon as the cases started increasing in Tirupati, the blame was thrown on us by social media and also by some vested persons that we have resumed darshan only to make money. We are spending more money on all facilities of COVID measures rather than what we are making out from pilgrims,'' he said adding that so far devotees expressed immense
satisfaction over the arrangements of darshan, accommodation, Kalyana Katta, laddu, annaprasadam and other facilities made by TTD.
"The cases have not increased in Tirupati alone, but the entire state as well the country is facing a similar problem,” he asserted.
Singhal said about 2.38 lakh pilgrims from different parts of the country had darshan of Lord Venkateswara in July.
Speaking to media after the Dial your EO programme, the EO said, though there was a dip in the footfall to Tirumala due to surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, from the past three days, the number of pilgrims picked up again.
"On August 8, about 8500-odd pilgrims had darshan against the quota of 9000 tickets”, he observed.