God, please don’t mind old notes! | punjab | Hindustan Times
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God, please don’t mind old notes!

The recent Supreme Court order that gives the Centre and RBI two weeks to consider granting a window to exchange old notes may be a godsend

punjab Updated: Jul 14, 2017 10:46 IST
HT Correspondents
BETWEEN GOD AND RBI: Devotees offering prayers at the Mansa Devi Temple in Panchkula that still gets old currency notes in its donation boxes.
BETWEEN GOD AND RBI: Devotees offering prayers at the Mansa Devi Temple in Panchkula that still gets old currency notes in its donation boxes.(Sant Arora/HT Photo)

DEVOTION TRUMPS DEMONETISATION Even eight months after the government scrapped high-value currency, devotees continue to offer old notes at the region’s prominent shrines such as the Golden Temple, Vaishno Devi, and Chintpurni, leaving their managements flummoxed. Little knowing what to do with the cash stash, they are praying to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for one more chance to exchange the notes. The recent Supreme Court order that gives the Centre and RBI two weeks to consider granting a window to exchange old notes may be a godsend.

Golden Temple golak has Rs 20 lakh in old notes

Amritsar: Six months after the government’s deadline to surrender banned currency notes in the denomination of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 lapsed, devotees continue to offer the scrapped notes to the Almighty. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) that manages the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, is saddled with Rs 20 lakh in old notes. It has another ₹6 lakh collected from donations offered in golaks (donation boxes) in other gurdwaras managed by it.

Golden Temple manager Sulakhan Singh says the management stopped issuing receipts for offerings of scrapped notes last December but that hasn’t deterred devotees. “Initially, the golaks got scrapped notes in bulk. The trend has stemmed but there are still some devotees who slip in such notes. Our sewadars (employees) can’t forbid them from doing so as it vitiates the spiritual environment inside the sanctum sanctorum,” he says, sharing his dilemma.

The SGPC, which manages 79 historical gurdwaras among others, wrote to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), urging it to exchange the old notes but in vain. The recent Supreme Court that gives the Centre and RBI two weeks to consider granting a window to those who have not been able to exchange the scrapped notes for genuine reasons may be a godsend for SGPC.

An average of Rs 7 crore is collected from the Golden Temple golak every month. A total of Rs 74 crore was collected in the last financial year.

Mansa Devi temple hopes RBI will accept old notes

Panchkula: The Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board is also in a fix over old currency notes in its donation boxes.

Board chief executive officer VG Goel says, “We are collecting such cash separately but we don’t know what to do with it. No bank accepts the cash. We will be happy if people’s offering to God is accepted.”

Within 8 days of the PM announcing demonetisation to curb corruption, the temple got about Rs 10 lakh in scrapped notes. “It’s quite less now compared to those days,” Goel adds.