REVENUE FROM TEMPLE GOLD FOR DEVELOPMENTAL WORKS

WHY IN THE NEWS?

After 10 years, Tamil Nadu is going to revive the ‘excess gold’ scheme. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department has decided on the revival. They will utilise the excess gold which was offered by the devotees in lieu of their worship. The scheme will be monitored by retired judges so that the process can be transparent.

So, this scheme is a revival of a prevailing scheme. This scheme was in operation since 1978 and worked till 2010, and then stopped. Tiruttani temple was the last temple from where the last excessive jewels were taken to make gold bars out of them. After that, due to some reasons, the scheme was discontinued by the government. Thus, as a result in those 10 years, a large quantity of gold jewellery has been collected in temples.

HOW WILL IT WORK?

The gold offerings which were given by devotees from different parts of the world in the past 10 years, will be taken from temples where they are in excess after being used for the needs of the temples. These excess gold offerings were taken at one of the government mints in Mumbai. The pure gold thus received after melting will be deposited in banks, where they can be monetised as per the needs of temples. To monitor the entire process, committees will be formed which will be headed by retired judges.

As per the official sources, to make the entire process remain undisputed and free of any complaints, the collection of all types of jewellery would be live-streamed in the presence of the committees headed by retired judges.

For this process, the ministry is going to create three zones for the entire state. And, they are expecting that the entire process to get completed in the coming three to four months.

ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE BY HR&CE MINISTER

HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu has made some developmental plans-

  1. 10 arts and science colleges will be started by the department at a cost of Rs 150 crore
  2. First-aid centres will be established in 10 key temples 
  3. The priests in temples shall be given an incentive of Rs 1,000 per month
  4. 10,000 security personnel will be recruited for HR and CE temples
  5. On Pongal festival day, new dresses for priests and other temple employees at a cost of Rs 10 crore will be given
  6. Renovation works will be carried out at a cost of Rs 150 crore in the Tiruchendur Murugan temple.
  7. A commercial complex at a cost of Rs 50 crore in the land owned by Srinivasa Perumal temple in Egmore will be constructed.

CASE OF 2020 DURING COVID PANDEMIC

In 2020, the Congress party has given a proposal gold lying in religious trusts should be used in the Covid Pandemic. But, their proposal was severely criticized. 

The Supreme Court said that no gold monetization scheme can include the jewels of the deity because they are objects of worship and respect. Any scheme that aims to collects those objects of worship is in direct violation of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

Temples are under the control of State Governments and they can monetize their gold against their will, and no central law can do this.

SC has also commented on Tamil Nadu, that more than 47,000 acres of temple lands have been alienated in Tamil Nadu alone and further said that governments should have given up control over Temples on the same day when the Indian Constitution came into force.

The SC in its 3 judgements has asked the State governments to give up control over religious institutions to the community but never happened. And, there are 2 petitions currently pending which are relating to it in the Supreme Court.

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