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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

RBI seeks details of gold in two Kerala temples

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Thiruvananthapuram/ New Delhi, September 07, 2013
First Published: 00:24 IST(7/9/2013) | Last Updated: 09:28 IST(7/9/2013)

In a move that reverberated in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sought details of gold held by two of the richest temples in India - Guruvayur and Sabarimala. Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, the richest, also in Kerala, was spared due to an ongoing case in the Supreme Court.

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"We received the letter recently. We have entrusted the managing committee of the temple to take a final decision," said a senior official of the Guruvayur temple, who asked not to be named. Guruvayur — with an annual income estimated at Rs. 50 crore — has a treasure of over 600 kg of gold.

Offering gold bars to temples is an age-old tradition in India. Around 20,000 tonnes of gold is estimated to be possessed by homes and temples.

The second biggest seasonal pilgrimage after Mecca, Sabarimala —  attracting nearly three crore pilgrims — ‘earns' around R105 crore and 15 kg of gold annually.

Denying unconfirmed reports that RBI may approach major temples to buy gold, RBI's regional director S Gangadharan, dismissed the letter as a "routine exercise". "The RBI has no plans to buy gold from anyone for now."

"We will not allow the government to plunder shrines," said BJP state president V Muralidharan.

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