PAC beards Pashupati priest on irregularities

Kathmandu, July 13:

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives and Mahabaleshor Bhatta, the head priest of Pashupati Temple along with its “bhandaris” today decided to formulate a management system to regularise income and expenditure of the temple in order to control irregularities.

In the meeting with the MPs, Bhatta and the bhandaris agreed to make the arrangements to streamline income and expenditure of Pashupati Temple where there is said to be rampant corruption.

When the MPs including PAC chairman Chitra Bahadur KC met Bhatta at his residence in the temple, Bhatta said that he would be happy to see a suitable management system and also called for a stop to blaming him for irregularities in the temple.

MPs Tek Bahadur Chokyal, Shiv Kumar Basnet, Bharat Kumar Shah, Dilli Raj Sharma, Ishwor Pokhrel and Krishna Bahadur Maharjan told Bhatta to be transparent, control irregularities and maintain a record of the income and expenditure.

Though the Supreme Court has ordered the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) to promulgate a PADT regulation to streamline the money flow, it is yet to toe the SC line. Bhatta also told the MPs that the income of the temple is always divided between four Bhattas and 108 bhandaries and that there was no irregularity. Officials of the PADT told the MPs that they had gathered about 14 kg of gold since 1951 and that about Rs 3 lakhs is collected every year. They also claimed that they had deposited with the dhukuti the entire amount of Rs 11.4 million that was the income of the current fiscal year.

The MPs did not take Bhatta’s statements at face value, adding that they would hold a probe into the income and expenditure of the temple and make appropriate arrangements in this regard.

Bhatta claimed that he had only been taking the amount of the special puja and the amount would be deposited in the safe of the temple. He added that he would only receive the amount of special puja which any one offers.

Bhatta claimed all the collected amount is being deposited in the Akshyakosh, Mul Dhukuti and Bhandari Tahabil and so there was no question of irregularities. Wiping tears, Bhatta urged the MPs to bring and end to the bad publicity and defamation.

He added that he was not accepting monetary offerings for his own gain but only doing so to follow the temple practice. He also urged the MPs not to listen to libel against him just because he was an Indian national. PAC chairman KC assured Bhatta that it is was the custom to get Bhattas from India but there was no ground to criticise any such Bhatta just because he would be an Indian.