The Siddhivinayak Trust, which governs the Siddhivinayak Temple at Prabhadevi, wants the state government to relax the cap on the funds it can spend for donations and charity.
The Trust, one of the richest in Mumbai, also wants the state to make more funds available to its disposal. This will be discussed at a meeting to be held between the trustees and Law Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Tuesday. Since 2003, the Trust has been allowed to spend only 30 per cent of its disposable income annually on charity and donation passes which comes to approximately Rs 7 crore.
“We want this limit to be increased to at least 50 per cent. All this is people’s money and it should go back to them in maximum,” said Subhash Mayekar, chairman of the trust.
The 30 per cent limit was set through an interim order of the high court after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by city activist late Keval Semlani against the committee for misappropriation of money given by devotees to the temple.
Through the PIL, it had emerged that funds sanctioned by the Trust went to individuals or organisations that were controlled by politicians or influential people, and that there was no accountability. The court had then asked the state to draft guidelines to decide the financial norms for the trust as a stringent measure.
In 2008, the state capped the Trust’s donations to charitable organisations at Rs 15 lakh and medical assistance at Rs 25,000 (will not be more than the 50 per cent of the surgery cost).
“Our annual income is Rs 40 crore and we spend only 15 per cent on establishment costs. The 30 per cent cap was through an interim order given by the court the case is now disposed, so the amends should be allowed,” Mayekar added.