Jammu: Pilgrims visiting the cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir offered Rs 40 lakh in demonetised currency notes in the last two years, a top official has said.
Pilgrims offered Rs 1.90 crore in banned notes between November 9, 2016, and December 9, 2016. Though the shrine board didn’t get much of the demonetised currency as offerings since December 31, 2016, in 2017 and 2018 Rs 40 lakh of junked currency has been given by devotees.
“There is no dip in the offerings. Rather the trend is encouraging but yes some devotees still offer demonetised currency. This figure of such demonetised currency has reached Rs 40 lakh,” Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s (SMVDSB’s) chief executive officer Simrandeep Singh said while speaking to the Hindustan Times.
The board manages and regulates the pilgrimage.
“The RBI has refused to accept as these currency notes are no more legal and have no relevance. Yes, they are trash for us. We will dispose them off in an appropriate manner,” he said.
Demonetisation and goods and service tax (GST) failed to dampen the spirits of pilgrims visiting the cave shrine, the second richest in India after Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.
Devotees offered Rs 164 crore at the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum in 2018, out of which, Rs 1 crore was donated on December 31, 2018, and January 1, 2019.
“From January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, we had total cash offerings of Rs 154 crore and from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018, we had total cash offerings of Rs 164 crore,” Singh said.
“What GST has to do with it? Demonetisation has also no impact on the offerings at the cave shrine,” he said.
Soon after the Prime Minister’s announcement, the shrine board had set up point of sales/swipe machines to facilitate pilgrims to make cashless payments through debit and credit cards.
The shrine board had also issued an advisory in the form of pamphlets which were displayed at different locations along the track as well as at Niharika, Ardhkuwari, Bhawan and at each of the accommodation and other units, advising pilgrims not to put old currency notes in the donation boxes.