Stalin launches scheme to melt gold in more temples

Chief Minister M K Stalin launching the scheme of converting excess gold offered by devotees in temples to gold bars in three more temples today.

Chennai: Chief Minister M K Stalin today launched the scheme of converting excess gold offered by devotees in temples to gold bars in three more temples. Stalin inaugurated the scheme via video conferencing.

The HR&CE department has constituted a panel headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, assisted by two retired judges of the High Court, to monitor the entire process.

The scheme which is already implemented in several temples has now been extended to three other temples.

Arulmigu Karumariamman temple in Thiruverkaadu, Arulmigu Maariyamman Temple in Samayapuram and Arulmigu Maariyamman Temple in Irukkankudi. are the latest temples added in this scheme.

It may be noted that the State government has recently submitted in the Madras High Court that about 500 kg of gold has been melted into bars so far and deposited at banks.

‘This has earned Rs 11 crore through interest,’ the government stated. The gold monetisation scheme was revived by HR&CE department after the DMK came to power.

‘The gold offerings given by devotees during the past 10 years, which are in excess after being used for the needs of the temples, will be melted at the government mint at Mumbai and the pure gold thus received will be deposited in banks to net additional revenue for temples.

To monitor this process, committees headed by retired judges will be formed,’ HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu announced while replying to the discussion on the demands for grants for his department in the State Assembly.

‘This scheme has been in force since 1978 and it went on smoothly till 2010. Tiruttani Murugan temple was the last from where the excessive jewels were made into gold bars. After that, for some reason, the scheme was stopped. As a result, large quantities of gold jewels have piled up in many temples and verification was also not done for these jewels,’ sources said.

The Madras High Court was informed on Tuesday that melting of gold jewellery belonging to the temples in Tamilnadu was not a new phenomenon.

It was being done from 1977 and as much as five lakh grams of gold jewellery had been melted, Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram told a vacation bench of Justices R Mahadevan and Abdul Quddhose, when the PIL petitions challenging the 9 and 22 September notifications of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department came up for hearing.