There is a rush of devotees and donations at temples across India ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. The Hindu reported that Venkateswara temple in Tirupati received around Rs 22.9 crores in the last eight days. The report suggested as the deadline for exchange or deposit of old currency notes approaches, this sum is likely to increase.
According to the Business Standard, donations have gone up by almost 50 percent at Mumbai's Siddhivinayak Temple since 8 November. Narendra Rane, chairman of the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust, was quoted as saying, "The average weekly collection is Rs 46.23 lakh. But in the last few days, the temple has received Rs 59.44 lakh."
The Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha is another temple has been receiving a lot of Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes as donations in the last one week, reported The Times of India. According to the report, on 10 November, the temple received Rs Rs 3,66,360 as donation which is much higher than their average collection.
As this Firstpost article noted that the Maharashtra government had 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.
Moreover, the Charity Commissioner's office in Maharashtra has asked the temple authorities at several
popular pilgrimage centres to open donation boxes only in the presence of authorised personnel due to the apprehension that the cash could be used by black-money hoarders to get rid of their ill-gotten wealth.
The decision was also taken to avoid the inflow of unaccounted for currency notes through temple donations, a senior officer at the Charity Commissioner's office told PTI.
Earlier, a senior minister of the Maharashtra government told PTI that hurried donations made to nearly 100
temples and trusts and sudden spurt in cash reserves in nearly 1,000 cooperative banks and credit societies in the state after Centre's decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have come under government's scanner.
"Some people have tried to secure their unaccounted cash by donating it to temples by taking its management into confidence and making receipt of such donations as anonymous donors," the minister said.
According to The Times of India, the Income Tax Department has issued notices to many temples in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The temple trusts have been asked to present their balance sheets.
(With inputs from agencies)