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India's Central Bank wants details of Gold stocks with temples

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MUMBAI (Scrap Register): Indian Central Bank, RBI and the Indian government are looking at the huge stock of gold lying idle at some of the country's biggest temples.

The temple boards in Kerala have received letters from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking details of the stock of gold in their possession, a report quoting sources at India's famous Guruvayoor temple in Kerala.

While some of the richest temples in the country such as Tirumala Tirupati, Sree Padmanabhaswamy, Guruvayoor Shree Krishna temple, Shree Siddhivinayak and Vaishnodevi are in no mood to part with their treasure, the government is trying to coax them to release them to the market to ease the supply crunch and control dollar outflows.

The roofs of many temples, such as the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, and Tirupati are covered with gold. Tirupati is among the world's richest temples with an estimated gold hoard of about 1,000 tons, nearly double of India's estimated imports this year.

Despite government efforts to curtail gold buying, India's gold imports jumped 45% to 553 tons during the first half of 2013, World Gold Council data shows.

The country, as a whole, is estimated to have a gold stock of 18,000-30,000 tons. The temple trusts, however, do not seem inclined towards such a plan, at least for now.

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