With over 1 crore coin donations, Shirdi temple facing ‘excess change’ woes; RBI intervenes

With over 1 crore coin donations, Shirdi temple facing 'excess change' woes; RBI intervenes
Most banks have reportedly been refusing to accept the huge quantity of coins due to lack of storage space, difficulty in counting, transporting and putting them back into public circulation (Representational Image, Courtesy: cellcode.us)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come to the rescue of famed Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) in Shirdi, which has been facing a problem of excess small change since the last few months.

According to reports, the apex bank has ordered 16 nationalised banks, where SSST has accounts, to accept small change offered in the temple coffers by millions of devotees.

“The RBI General Manager (Issue) K. Kamalakannan had convened the meeting to hammer out a solution to this crisis affecting us since the past over one year,” SSST Chief Accounts Officer B.B. Ghorpade told news agency IANS.

He said that on an average, the coffers in the Saibaba Samadhi Temple and the surrounding complex cough out more than 1 crore coins, worth around Rs 4 crore, annually.

The coins, donated in denominations of Rs 1, 2, 5 and 10, weigh several tonnes. They have to be counted, accounted and then deposited with the various banks where the SSST holds accounts.

However, most banks have been refusing to collect the huge quantity of coins on grounds of lack of storage space, difficulty in counting, transporting and putting them back into public circulation.

“Since the past three months, we have been depositing them with banks in turns whenever they had space to accommodate them. But even then the problems continued,” Ghorpade said.

To solve the problem, the SSST has agreed to allot 8-10 high-security strongrooms in one of the temple premises to the banks for storing the coins.

“We will give them the rooms, approximately 400 sq feet each, with CCTVs, security guards, special grills, etc., where the banks can store our coins till they are able to dispose of them,” Ghorpade revealed.

The problem of depositing small change wasn’t as acute earlier since small shopkeepers, toll plazas, public bus services, and other entities used to exchange notes with coins in bulk from the nationalised banks.

However, with toll plazas going digital and people taking to cashless transactions or online purchases, the demand for coins has drastically reduced, flooding the markets with coins of all denominations, Ghorpade explained.

SSST in Shirdi attracts over 10 million devotees from all over the world who donate over Rs 500 crore every year, making it among the ten richest temple trusts in the country.

The donations are used to fund various social-educational-charitable activities, improving facilities for pilgrims and developing infrastructure around Shirdi.

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