Temples in Himachal Pradesh will now be able to sell half their gold reserves in the form of gold biscuits and coins at the current market rate. The state assembly has amended the HP Hindu Public Religious & Chairitable Endowments Act 1984 to accomodate the suggestions by temple committees.
The yellow metal lying in temple coffers was causing loss of crores of rupees to temple trusts due to the huge cost of providing security to the gold reserves.
Last year, the HPRCE Act was modified to allow temple trusts to use 10 per cent of gold for temple-related activities and 20 per cent of the reserves into ‘Gold Bond scheme with the State Bank of India’.
With 70 per cent gold kept aside as reserves, the new amendment will allow the sale of half of what is kept by the shrines.
The new law will also allow temples to make use of huge reserves of silver — the trusts can now use 20 per cent of the holdings for temple activities, another 20 per cent as reserves and the balance for sale as silver coins to pilgrims.
Himachal Pradesh has at least 13 temples that have large treasure troves, including Chintpurni temple in Una, Naina Devi ,Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Devi, Brajeshwari Devi, Baba Balak Nath, Bhimakali and Hateshwari. These temples have large gold and silver reserves in government tresauries. Two years ago ten temples had over 410 kg of gold in government treasuries.