Mumbai: A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Maharashtra's famous temples and shrines are busy counting money. The state government issued a circular on Wednesday asking all religious bodies, NGOs and charitable trusts to maintain a daily balance sheet and deposit donations received, in banks, on a daily basis.
Earlier, religious places used to deposit donations received on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
Religious places had been seeing a surge in donations after the ban with many devotees dropping in the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes apart from gold, silver and other valuable items through donation boxes. So, to avoid black money through donations in religious places, the Law and Judiciary Department of the Maharashtra government issued the circular.
"It is now mandatory for all temples and public trust offices to deposit donations received, daily in the bank," said legal consultant Rajendra Sawant. The circular, a copy of which is available with the Firstpost, is applicable for all charitable trusts, NGOs and temples who have been received donations in old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
There are more than 1,000 temples and shrines registered with the charity commissioner's office in Maharashtra. Besides, the state is also home to several popular temples including the richest temple of the country, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust in Mumbai.
Talking to Firstpost, Narendra Rane, chairman of Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, confirmed that he has received the new circular. "From today onwards we are counting all donations received in our cash boxes on a daily basis. Earlier, we used to do weekly counts in front of bank employees and our members. But seeing the pressure on banks, we have decided to count it using the temple staff," said Rane.
Interestingly, though the temple has witnessed a 25 percent fall in the number of devotees in the last 10 days, it witnessed an increase of 30 percent in donations, Rane added. "Before demonetisation, the average weekly collection was Rs 35 to Rs 40 lakhs. This time, we received Rs 60 lakhs in cash. The daily average has also gone up from Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 6.5 lakhs in the last 10 days," he added.
Rane claimed that earlier majority of the devotees would donate notes of lesser denominations, but post demonetisation, the number of higher denomination notes has increased. "We have received 90 new notes of Rs 2,000, 1,060 notes of Rs 1000 (Rs 10.60 lakh) and 3,340 notes of Rs 500 (Rs 17 lakh)," said Rane. Though the temple trust is not accepting old currency notes, it is unable to avoid them since notes are dropped anonymously.
Though the temple trust is not accepting old currency notes, it is unable to avoid them since notes are dropped anonymously. In fact, at many shrines, signs have been put up to discourage devotees from donating the invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Kolhapur's famous Mahalaxmi temple has also started daily count of donations from Thursday.