Tirupati: According to a media report, India’s richest Hindu temple of Lord Venkateshwara in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district decided to lay off 1,300 contractual workers citing the suspension of work and inability to renew contracts during the ongoing nationwide lockdown.

The discontinuation of service was announced on Friday by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, the trust managing the temple.

The nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic has resulted in several companies sacking their employees to reduce the overhead expenses.

The 1300 workers were employed in the sanitation and hospitality departments in the three guesthouses run by the temple trust – Vishnu Nivasam, Srinivasam and Madhavam – for several years.

“The contract entered into by the TTD with the manpower agency which supplied workers ended on April 30. Normally, fresh tenders would have been called by now for awarding of the contract to the agency which bids the lowest amount for manpower supply. Because of the lockdown, the TTD trust board could not meet and finalise the tender,” TTD official spokesman T Ravi was quoted by Hindustan Times. 

The board says since the last contract ended on April 30, the services of all the 1,300 contract workers were also terminated from May 1. “Everything was done as per the rules. Moreover, there is no work for these workers now, because of the lockdown, all guest houses are closed,” Ravi added.

It may be mentioned that the Union ministry of labour had issued an advisory before enforcing the lockdown on March 24, asking all employers not to terminate employees, particularly casual or contractual workers, and also not to reduce their wages.

Ministry of health affairs extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown beyond May 4 for another two weeks.

New guidelines, outlined on Friday, update the country's designated red, green and orange zoning system.