Tirupati, Feb 25 (PTI) The corpus for serving free food to the devotees thronging the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara has soared to a whopping Rs 800 crore, enabling the administration to feed an estimated one lakh pilgrims daily.

It was a mere few lakhs of rupees at the inception, two decades ago.

The accumulated donations amounting to Rs 800 crore was earning an annual interest of Rs 60 crore and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, administering the cash-rich ancient shrine, was contributing a matching grant of Rs 25 crore every year to provide the free food, TTD officials said today.

The “Sri Venkateswara Annadanam Trust” was introduced in a humble manner with a few lakhs of donations in 1985 by then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister late N T Rama Rao to provide free meals to devotees visiting the temple from across the country, TTD Executive Officer D Sambasiva Rao said.

Thanks to copious donations by philanthropists over the years, the accumulated deposits in banks now stood at Rs 800 crore, he said.

Rao also said TTD had decided to renew the deposit of about 970 kg of gold with State Bank of India under the Gold Monetisation scheme. The deposit was made in 2014.

TTD was earning an annual interest of Rs 60 crore from the deposits and had been contributing around Rs 25 crore from its budget annually to provide free meals to devotees visiting the shrine in Tirumala and also the Sri Padmavathy temple at Tiruchanoor near Tirupati among other surrounding pilgrim places, TTD PRO Talari Ravi told PTI.

He said altogether about one lakh devotees have been benefited from the free meal scheme daily. PTI CORR VS SMJ

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