Tamil Nadu government to revive 'excess gold' scheme for increasing temples' revenues

While excess gold offered by devotees to be melted at government mint in Mumbai, the pure gold bars received will be deposited in banks to fetch revenue.
For representational purpose. (File Photo | EPS)
For representational purpose. (File Photo | EPS)

CHENNAI:  After 10 years, the HR&CE department has decided to revive the scheme which utilised the excess gold offered by devotees for increasing temples' revenues. The scheme will be monitored by retired judges to make it a transparent affair.  

"The gold offerings given by devotees during the past 10 years, which are in excess after being used for the needs of the temples, will be melted at the government mint at Mumbai and the pure gold thus received will be deposited in banks to net additional revenue for temples. To monitor this process, committees headed by retired judges will be formed," HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu announced while replying to the discussion on the demands for grants for his department in the State Assembly.

"This scheme has been in force since 1978 and it went on smoothly till 2010. Tiruttani temple was the last from where the excessive jewels were made into gold bars. After that, for some reason, the scheme was stopped. As a result, large quantities of gold jewels have piled up in many temples and verification was also not done for these jewels," official sources said. 

Explaining the process involved for this scheme, official sources said, "Some of the gold jewels offered by devotees would be useful for adorning the Utsava Moorthis (the idols which are taken in procession) while many cannot be used in that way. These unused jewels would be taken to the government mint in Mumbai. The jewels made of various grades of gold undergo a purification process there and authorities of the mint deliver bars made of pure gold. These bars would be deposited in bank lockers."

Official sources further said to avoid giving room for any complaints, the entire process for segregation of jewels and other offerings would be livestreamed in the presence of committees headed by retired judges.

For this purpose, three zones would be created for the entire State. "We expect the whole task to be over in three to four months’ time. When the temple requires any finance, say for renovation works, these gold bars can be monetised," the sources added. 

 Key announcements

Vital points from HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu's speech...

  • 10 arts and science colleges will be started by the department at a cost of Rs 150 crore at Kolathur, Kilpauk, Vilathikulam, Thoppampatti, Anaikattu, Kalasapakkam, Thirukkattupalli, Lalgudi, Kadayam and Tiruchengode

  • First-aid centres will be established in 10 key temples at Palani, Samayapuram, Tiruchendur, Tiruttani, Tiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, Srirangam, Marudamalai, Sholinghur and Melmalaiyanur

  • Hereafter, the charge being collected from devotees by HR&CE temples for tonsuring head to fulfil their spiritual vow, will not be collected  

  • The priests in temples where ‘one time pooja’ per day is being implemented will be given an incentive of Rs 1,000 per month; Rs 13 crore will be granted for this

  • 10,000 security personnel will be appointed for HR and CE temples

  • On Pongal festival day, new dresses will be presented to priests and other temple employees at a cost of Rs 10 crore 

  • A commercial complex will be constructed at a cost of Rs 50 crore in the land owned by Srinivasa Perumal temple in Egmore 

  • Renovation works will be carried out at a cost of Rs 150 crore in Tiruchendur Murugan temple

Key announcements made by Minister for Tourism M Mathiventhan for his department

  • Poompuhar town will be renovated

  • To attract private and foreign investments, a master plan for tourism will be created to develop 300 tourist spots in the State

  • To draw more visitors to Kolli hills, various facilities such as eco-resorts will be created

  • To connect Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kodaikkanal through air, a helipad will be established

  • Hokkenakal tourist spot will be developed with additional infrastructure facilities

Key announcements made by Labour Welfare Minister CV Ganesan in the Assembly

  • A housing scheme for construction employees

  • To enhance employability of government ITI students, the institutions will be upgraded with private support

  • To assist the government civil service aspirants, a separate programme will be introduced in Kalvi TV

  • A new education assistance scheme for members of Tamil Nadu Unorganised Employees Welfare

  • Accident death compensation for members of Drivers Welfare Board will be increased to Rs 2 lakh

  • Assistance for natural death for construction workers and drivers increased to Rs 50,000

  • Tamil Nadu Skill Development Board to offer programmes on emerging technologies such as Robotics & Artificial Intelligence

Key announcements made by Minister for Art and Culture, Museums & Archaeology Thangam Thennarasu

  • Rs 1.64 crore for producing 75 videos of folk arts

  • 500 folk artists will be receive Rs 10,000 cash assistance every year

  • Cash assistance for poor Kalaimamani awardees will be increased to Rs 1 lakh

  • Rs 22.40 crore for a science centre and the expansion of Children’s Museum at the Chennai Government Museum

  • Theme park at the fossil park in Ariyalur

  • Steps will be taken to document the rock arts of the State

  • Steps will be taken to conduct three archaeology excavations at seven places including three new places and two field studies in 2021

  • Five inscriptions of the State including the Arittappatti Thamizhi inscription in Madurai district will be declared as protected monuments

CM announces waiver of 1 per cent market cess on cotton 

CHENNAI: Bringing cheers to entrepreneurs in textile industry and weavers, Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday fulfilled one of their long pending demands - waiver of the one per cent market cess on cotton and cotton waste.

He said that the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce Marketing Regulation Act, 1987 would be amended during the ongoing session of the Assembly to give effect to this decision. Making a suo motu statement, the CM said though Tamil Nadu had one-third of the textile industry in the country and 45 per cent of the yarn industry, about 95 per cent of cotton was procured from other States.

He stated that when cotton and waste cotton are transported from other States, small and marginal spinning mills face difficulties in paying the market cess.

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