Temples in Himachal to sell gold

Shimla: Facing a problem of plenty, the Himachal government has proposed to amend the HP Hindu Public Religious & Charitable Endowments Act 1984 so as put gold reserves to better use by intending to sell it as religious souvenirs to devotees as the existing shrines.

The bill moved on Thursday by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal seeks to sell 50% of the reserves lying with the temples as gold biscuits and coins to pilgrims at prevailing market price.

The gold lying with the temple coffers was causing loss of crores of rupees to the temple trusts because heavy expenditure had was being incurred on security.

The act had only been amended in 2010, wherein the government had enacted a law permitting temple trusts to use 10 percent of the gold with them for temple related activities and allowed investments of 20 % of gold holdings into ‘Gold Bond Scheme of State Bank of India.

With 70 % of the Gold with the temples kept aside as reserves, the new amendment ill seeks to allow sale of half of what is held by the shrines.

With large quantities of silver also lying with these temple trusts, the proposed law seeks to permit using 20% of holding for temple activities, another 20 percent as reserves and the balance for sale as silver coins to pilgrims. The bill likely to listed for discussion on Friday.

There are atleast 13 millionaire temples, which include Chintpurni temple in Una, Naina Devi in Bilaspur, Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brajeshwari Devi in Kangra, Baba Balkhnath in Hamirpur, Bhimakali and Hateshwari in Shimla with large gold and silver offering deposits lying in government treasuries.

In 2009, ten of these temples had over 410 Kgs of gold lying in government treasury safes.

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