Tirupati, AP, Apr 2: The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) found itself in a piquant situation after having discovered that some of those who donated gold for the fantasy gold plating 'Ananda Nilayam-Anantha Swarnamayam' project turned out to be bogus, reports Times of India.
After the Supreme Court stayed the project last year, TTD started sending out letters to donors asking whether they intended to take back the gold or wanted to use it for other schemes of TTD.
But to its shock, TTD found that some of the addresses of the donors were non-existent .
"We were perplexed as in some cases, the addresses were fictitious though gold was donated in their names," a senior TTD official said.
The TTD is in a fix about what to do with the gold of the bogus donors, says the TOI report. Till now, over 100 kg of gold has landed in TTD kitty for the gold plating project.
Chief accounts officer O Balaji says most of the donors don't want their gold back.
The gold is in the safe custody of Bokkasam (treasury).
Following a petition by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, the Supreme Court last year ruled that no further work could be taken up till further orders.
Former TTD chairman D K Adikesavulu Naidu (DK), the brain behind the controversial project, filed a petition in the Supreme Court in February 2011 appealing it to direct the temple authorities to continue the project.
This was after the AP High Court stayed the gold plating works as it could pose a serious threat to the centuries-old inscriptions and weaken the Tirumala temple structure.
Even the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told the high court that the proposed gold plating of the walls of the temple could damage the inscriptions which should be preserved for posterity.
As soon as he took over as chairman in August 2008, DK Adikesavulu Naidu proposed the project, got it ratified by the TTD.
DK's argument was that unless the temple was plated with gold, pilgrims would stop coming to Tirumala and go to Vellore Sripuram Sri Mahalakshmi golden temple which is covered in layers of gold.
Insiders in the temple say DK believed that gold cover would enhance the 'glory' of the temple like the Golden Temple of Amritsar.
Estimated to cost Rs 100 crore and requiring over 200 kg of gold, the project was formally launched in October 2008.
He also saw himself as a modern day Krishnadeva Raya, the 16th century Vijayanagara emperor who had first begun the process of gold plating that did not progress much.
Despite objections from archaeologists, heritage conservationists and board members, DK was hell bent upon his 'dream' project.
During a visit in March 2010, Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya (and close to DK) had said he would donate Rs 6 crore for gold coating the door frames in the sanctum sanctorum.
MVS Ananthakrishnan , top financier close to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa, who got the works done on Bangaru Vakili (main door of Dwarapalaka) by bringing skilled workers from TN, was also keen to turn Tirumala into Golden Temple of the south.
Chief priest A V Ramana Deekshitulu , had however expressed serious concern that the gold plating would permanently obscure invaluable inscriptions dating from 10th to 18th century, which are mostly in Tamil, apart from Telugu and Devanagari.
"They throw light on social aspects and traditions of the Cholas , Pallavas and Vijayanagara kings," points out Kirankrant Chowdary of SV University. There are 640 ancient inscriptions on the temple walls.
Retired TTD chief engineer V Anjaneyulu Naidu observes the copper and gold framework would harm the structural stability of the temple.
"It would be a disaster if the project is allowed to proceed," says social activist B K Srinivasa Ramanuja Ayyangar, one of the first persons to raise objections to the project.
"If we begin gold-plating monuments, our historical heritage will be destroyed forever," he warns.