Visakhapatnam: Devotees of Sri Varahalakshmi Narasimha Swamy at Simhachalam temple expressed their anger with the temple management for their negligence in protecting the gold donated by devotees. They were upset when told that no audit or appraisal of the gold was done since 2009 and a fresh process had begun now.

"How can they neglect the temple wealth?" asked a 70-year-devotee who donates silk robes and small gold ornaments to the temple during Sravana masam

The temple officials confessed that there was no record of gold ornaments donated by devotees since 2009. People are suspecting that some gold might have gone outside the temple, benefiting a few employees during these 12 years.

According to practice, the main priest receives the gold and issues a receipt to the donor. Later he hands it over to the appraiser to get it entered into the registry. The priest keeps some ornaments for daily decoration of the deity while most of the gold is put in the strong room and banks.

"The appraisal has to be done every three years but it has not been done since 2009. Now, the team from the endowments department, Vijayawada, is preparing a fresh appraisal register and will compare it with the one prepared in 2009. The appraisal, which began on Thursday, will be completed on 2 August," executive officer M.V Suryakala said.

Allaying the fears of the devotees, she said there was no theft of gold ornaments as every item is valued by the temple goldsmith and kept in the strong room.

According to a report sourced from the temple, 36 kg of gold is with the State Bank of India in the form of gold bonds, 10 kg is with the main priests for day to day use, eight kg of gold is in the Andhra Bank lockers which was purchased after selling silver, two kg is fixed with Rajagopuram, 7.25 kg is with the assistant executive officer, and the remaining is kept in the strong room and some with other banks.

In all, the temple had 69.280 kg of gold as of last October. The appraisal report on 2 August will reveal the shortfalls if any, the EO said.

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