Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has ordered a fresh probe into the gold scam involving the officials of Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board, which runs the famous Hindu Shrine Mata Mansa Devi in Panchkula.
The shrine officials had allegedly sold the gold coins and pendants -minted from the gold offerings made by the followers -at throwaway prices to unknown persons, believed to be their relatives which caused a huge loss to the temple trust.
The then Bhupinder-Singh-Hooda government is in the dock again as Hooda besides being a Chief Minister was also Chairman of the board.
The issue rocked the shrine board meeting held recently. the probe will be done by the principal secretary, urban department who will submit its report to the state government within three months.
"The gold coins and pendants were sold at a time when the gold prices were going up. most of the coins were sold within two days .the followers did not get the coins. the corrupt temple officials caused huge loss to the board. surprisingly, there is no record about the buyers. this is a big scam," Minister of State and Panchkula MLA, Gian chand gupta said.
The scandalous scale took place between 2006 and 2007. The then Congress government had ordered a probe in 2008 after the issue rocked the state. the vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau which had registered a case in 2008 submitted its report after three years in 2011 in which role of two top temple officials was found suspicious. The Chief Executive officers neither maintained the accounts nor got them audited to find out the irregularities. The vigilance probe had found that while the market price of a 10 gram gold was rs 9200, the temple officials sold the gold at rs 5420 caused a loss of rs 2730 per 10 gram to the temple. In 2007 the market price for the 10 gram gold was rs 8500 but the temple officials sold at rs 6420. the temple authorities had sold 257 pendants (four grams) and 213 coins weighting eight grams in 2006. The board also sold 39 pendants weighing four grams each and five pendants weighing eight grams Khattar digs deeper into gold scam each. A total 2732 grams and 196 grams of gold were sold in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
"The board had melted 5 kg gold to mint coins and pendants containing photos of goddess. While the temple officials were reporting sales, the followers were complaining about the non availability of coins and pendants.the then Congress government had ordered a vigilance probe which found that the coins and pendants were sold to unknown people at throwaway prices .the temple had no recorabout the buyers who were the near and dear one of the Board officials. this caused huge loss to the temple," Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board, Panchkula, V G Goel said.
While the temple authorities had got melted nearly 5 kg gold , received as offerings made by the followers, during the tenure of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, 9.551 kg gold was melted to mint coins and pendants during the tenure of Om Prakash Chautala. Investigations done by Mail Today revealed that as much as 9.551 kg gold was melted on December 12,1991, May 28,1995, May 14,1998 and September 4, 2001.
Interestingly the Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board in its meeting held on in 2003 had decided that the gold coins and pendants will only be sold at the rates approved by it as it was not possible for it to change the prices as the gold prices were fluctuating. While the 8 grams pendant was priced at Rs 5100, the pendant weighing 4 grams was priced at Rs 3100. The then state government had reduced the price of the coin weighing 4 grams from Rs 3100 to Rs 2600 as the boards was not able to sell the coins. The total offerings being made at Kalka and Mansa Devi temples is around 20 crore per annum. Most of the offerings come from Mansa Devi temple.