The state is all set to ink MoU with the Mines and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) to pave the way for molding quintals of gold and silver worth Rs 150 crore offered at major shrines in the state into coins. Coins will bear the embossed emblem of the main deities. A team of the MMTC is expected to reach Shimla next week to finalise the MoU.
At present, about three quintals of gold and 225 quintals of silver are lying in the treasuries of about 20 schedule temples all over the state. Both silver and gold coins will be made weighing between 2 gm and 20 gm in gold and 20 gm and 200 gm in silver.
A decision had been taken by the state government in 2010 by making an amendment to the Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act, 1984, to convert the tonnes of gold and silver into coins.
It is in pursuance to this amendment that talks were held with the MMTC, since it was a government undertaking. It was decided that only 50 per cent of the total gold and silver would be converted into coins. Of the remaining 50 per cent, while 10 per cent was to be kept as reserve, 20 per cent was to be invested in gold bonds of the State Bank of India and the remaining 20 per cent would be used for adornment and embellishment of the deities and the temples.
As per the conditions likely to be laid down in the MoU, the MMTC will charge for the transportation, security during transit, refining, making charges and packaging charges. The coins will be given to the temples for sale in proportion to the gold and silver taken from their treasury.
Since keeping this gold and silver safe was becoming a major headache for the government, which had to bear additional cost for engaging security personnel, it was decided to make coins and sell them to pilgrims. The possibility of pilferage would also be ruled out as there would be proper account of the total gold and silver with the temple trust.