How much gold is stocked in the temples across the country?
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had written letters to three devaswom boards and a temple trust in Kerala nearly a month back seeking particulars of the stock of gold in their custody. RBI had planned to prepare a nationwide database of the amount of gold possessed by rich temples. However, the letters to the devaswoms of Travancore and Kochi and also the managing trust of the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram had lead to angry reactions and all of them had decided to ignore the letter.
In response to an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the RBI has informed that the plan was no more in existence and the RBI does not intend to issue similar letters to other temples anywhere. The reply adds that the RBI letters were merely for statistical purposes but owing to the widespread suspicion on its motive, the plan was dropped. Advocate D.B. Binu of Kochi-based Human Rights Defence Forum, had filed the application.
With high levels of import of gold and a huge current account deficit in the country, attempts were being made to project the gold stocks of temples as a security for the RBI to intervene in the financial sector effectively. Crude estimates put the gold stocks across the temples in the country treasuries in the form of jewellery, bars, coins and miniature models of deities to be more than 2,000 tonne. An inclination among the temples to deposit their gold in nationalised banks has been noticed which has been received favourable comments.