Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s richest Hindu shrines, let go of 1,300 contractual workers amid the coronavirus outbreak. The staffers were taking care of the shrine’s sanitation and were told not to report for work from May 1, Mumbai Mirror reported.
The firm supplying the manpower was intimated that the contract, which expired on April 30, would not be renewed. YV Subba Reddy, the chairman of the temple’s trust told Mumbai Mirror that their services were discontinued.
The issue was brought to my notice. We will explore the ways to help them,” he said.
Reddy added that the regular employees of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) have also not been assigned work ever since the lockdown was announced.
The TTD’s budget for the present financial year is Rs 3,309 crore. The proposals finalised in February may undergo reviews owing to the coronavirus-related situation.
The aggrieved workers have appealed to the TTD administration to let them continue their work during the coronavirus crisis. TTD administration, however, is not willing to renew the contract with the existing manpower supplier, the report said quoting sources.
The move was heavily criticised by trade unions.
The workers, most of them working in the sanitation and maintenance side of things, had put their lives in risk to serve the pilgrims, only to be shown the door at a time of crisis, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Chittoor district (East) committee was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
The famous hill shrine has been closed since March 20 as part of measures to check the spread of coronavirus. The daily rituals in the temple, however, are being performed by the priests. Only the devotees are not allowed. The board had first announced the temple’s closure till May 3. It may now take a decision in the coming days as the Centre announced a two-week extension of lockdown.