New Delhi: In a bid to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gold monetization scheme, the Tirupati Temple would soon deposit idle gold for recycling purpose. The aim of the move is to reduce economy-hurting imports.
However, the scheme of the Prime Minister had not garnered much response with meager deposits from institutions and temples.
But, the over 5,000 years old Tirupati Temple, which is also known as Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, became the biggest depositor with 5.5 tonnes of gold.
Executive office of the trust that runs the Tirupati temple, Sambasiva Rao, acknowledging the deposit, said the temple had already deposited most of its gold with banks under monetization schemes offering 1 per cent interest.
“The temple investment committee will evaluate and whichever scheme is beneficial we are going to do that,” Sambasiva Rao said, adding the temple will move its entire hoard to Modi’s programme if convinced.
The temple would take a final decision in the next 10-15 days, Rao mentioned.
The cash-strapped Triputi Temple gets almost one ton of gold every year as offerings from devotees.
Countless devotees in India, seeking blessings, offer jewellery, bars, coins worth billions at the altars of various Gods in temples across India. Most to the trusts that run the temples do not declare these assets which they keep in clandestine vaults.
The new monetization scheme floated by the Narendra Modi government offered 2.5 per cent interest on the gold and was expected to lure in deposits.
“It’s a good scheme,” said Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, the finance minister of Andhra Pradesh, adding, “we (the Andhra Pradesh government) had already issued a directive to go for the scheme.”
With an insatiable craving for gold, India ranks firmly in the second spot after China in global gold consumption. And this leads to a costly import of gold resulting in a trade deficit.
However, Mumbai’s two-century-old Shree Siddhivinayak temple, which houses Lord Ganesha, was reluctant to deposit their gold citing that the banks accept gold after it was melted down which leads to the loss of its weight.
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