Tirupati temple deposits 1,311 kg gold with PNB

The Tirumala, or Balaji, temple in Tirupati, one of the richest in the world, has deposited 1,311 kg pure gold bars (0.995 fineness) with Punjab National Bank (PNB) under the new Gold Monetisation Scheme. Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) management is negotiating with public sector banks for better terms before making more such deposits.

TTD deposited first lot of gold under the three-year scheme and the PNB was chosen because it quoted the highest interest rate of 1.75 per cent on short-term deposits.

The short-term scheme allows deposits to be redeemed in gold, which temples like Tirupati favour. The TTD had written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the central government to amend the gold monetisation scheme. “If we get a green signal from them, then we could be able to deposit the existing deposits as well new one also under medium and long term schemes,” TTD executive officer D Sambasiva Rao said. And now that the RBI has allowed banks to redeem gold deposits with gold, banks have to simply change the structure of the schemes.

Tirumala temple gets about one tonne gold (usually in form of ornaments) every year as offerings from the devotees. This gold is then sent to the government mint in Mumbai for conversion into pure gold bars.

When added with 4.2 tonnes of gold deposited under the old Gold Deposit Scheme with the SBI, TTD’s total gold deposit in public sector banks is more than 5.5 tonnes.

The budget revenue for the organisation this year will be about Rs 2,600 crore, of which the devotees offerings in hundi is estimated at around Rs 1,000 crore. The interest revenue will be around Rs 800 crore and the revenue from sales of tickets, prasadam and others will be around Rs 600 crore. The major outgo will be towards wages and salaries, estimated at around Rs 500 crore. Similarly, Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust in Mumbai has decided to deposit 44 kg of gold ornaments with State Bank of India (SBI) for mid-term under the GMS.

Sanjiv S Patil, executive officer of the temple trust said, it would deposit gold for mid-term with the State Bank of India.

For short-term, SBI offered one per cent return, while for mid-term and long-term rates were fixed at 2.25 and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

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