The Tamil Nadu government will melt into gold bars the tiny bits of jewellery offered by devotees at temples run by the Hindu religious and charitable endowments department and deposit them in banks to raise funds for development projects and welfare schemes at the temples. Three zonal level panels headed by retired high court judges would be set up to supervise the entire exercise, HR&CE minister PK Sekar Babu told the assembly on 4 September.
Large quantities of such offerings over the past 10 years were lying unutilised in temple vaults, he said. Gems and precious stones in the jewellery would be removed before sending the gold to the government-owned refinery in Mumbai to melt down and convert to gold bars. They would, in turn, be deposited in banks to generate revenue, Sekar Babu said.
Senior officials in the department said about 2,000 KG of gold jewellery could get converted to gold bars. The department had been doing this exercise from 1978 till 2010. It was discontinued by the AIADMK government.
Verification officers would take stock of the gold jewellery to be converted to gold bars in the next two weeks. The entire process of verification of stock would be recorded and telecast on LED screens on temple premises. “It will be live-streamed on our department website,” a senior official said.
The official said big temples such as Tiruttani, Palani, Samayapuram and Tiruchendur would top in the stock of gold jewellery. “We will retain big gold jewellery pieces to adorn the deities. Only small ear and nose rings and chains will be taken for melting. The precious stones will be retained to adorn the deities. The gold bars, apart from depositing in banks, will be used for making gold temple cars,” the official said.