769 pots of gold missing from Kerala’s Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

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Sree Padmanabha Swamy TempleKerala: In a shocking incident, Gold worth Rs 186 crores has mysteriously gone missing from Kerala’s Sree Padmanabha swamy temple.

A special audit report by the Vinod Rai committee on temple management stated that there was a loss of 263 kg gold on the name of purification and gold worth 186 crore in the form of 769 gold pots were not traceable.

The report said 30 per cent of the gold sent for melting and purification was lost.

Rai in his report has recommended to constitute a committee to oversee irregularities in the temple.

In 2015, the Supreme Court had asked Rai to do an audit of the temple and submit its report.

padmanabha reportThe report notes that till June 2002, gold pots bearing numbers 1 to 1,000 were used for various festivals. But on April 1, 2011, a pot taken out for a festival had the number 1988. This would mean there were 1988 gold pots present in the various cellars of the temple says the report.

After melting 822 gold pots for ornamentation works, the report states that there should have been 1166 pots remaining. But the number of gold pots which were assigned to the committee were only 397, which means that 769 golds pots went missing.

The report also notes that these pots would have weighed 776kg in gold or approximately Rs 186 crore.

The report also states that out of 22 silver bars one is missing, each weighing 35 kg or approximately worth Rs 14 lakh per bar.

In its first ever reaction to Vinod Rai’s report, the royal family has accused Vinod Rai of not consulting any temple authority before filing his report. A statement given to The News Minute says, “Vinod rai’s report is purely based on the numbers written on the gold pots. No explanation was sought from any of the executive members of the temple or treasurer in this regard. The credibility of the report cannot be ascertained and the royal family does not even know the basis of this report. Mr Rai never recorded the family’s version. The family is pained to know that the report was reported in such a manner, even though the court has said it will give its verdict only after listening to the family’s version.”

A member of the royal family on terms of anonymity told, “The numbers are all written in old Malayalam script. Mr Rai has not seen these pots himself. How does he know that the serial numbers were meant to be continuous?

Jayasekharan Nair, the Executive officer at the temple told that the report assumes that only gold pots were numbered and does not take into account whether other temple possessions were also numbered along with the pots.

Lakshmanan Potti, the Muthalpadi or Treasurer of the temple said, “I don’t know about what happened in the temple a few years ago, but taking out this much gold is impossible.”

Saying that they were unaware of the theft, the administrative committee of the temple said in a press statement that they would move the Supreme Court seeking a probe. The statement also says that no verification of inventories was carried out between the period of December 2015 and April 2016.

Rai’s recommendations

  • Set up an administrative committee consisting of a retired IAS officer, representative of the Travancore royal family, representative of the Devaswom board, thantry (chief priest) of the temple, 2 prominent citizens who are devotees and an executive officer appointed by the Kerala Government.
  • Tenure of the members may be fixed at 3 years.
  • This committee will propose and pass the annual budget for the temple.
  • This committee will supervise all activities within the temple and be made accountable for all functioning.
  • The audit authority has given a large number of recommendations on accounting norms and maintenance of records.
  • Based on Gopal Subramaniam’s recommendation, the temple’s wealth management audit was handed over to the former CAG Vinod Rai. After the treasure in the temple was valued to be more than Rs 100,000 crore, security was beefed up at the temple with state of the art security systems to ensure the safety of the gold in the temple.
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