Two more temples, both from Gujarat, have joined the government’s Gold Monetisation Scheme, taking the total so deposited since the launch in November 2015 to around six tonnes.

Sometime earlier, the Shree Somnath Trust, near Junagadh, had deposited a small quantity of gold under GMS with Dena Bank. This was refined by the Gujarat Gold Center, one of the oldest gold refineries in the state, at Ahmedabad.

In end-January, another North Gujarat temple, Ambaji’s, Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust, deposited 6.3 kg of gold with Dena Bank, through the same Centre. This is the first such incidence, of a private refinery route being used to deposit gold.

Sources close to the temple said they were testing the mechanism. “More deposits will be made in the near future,” the source said. The Ambaji temple is said to have another 100 kg which can be deposited.

Both temples in Gujarat have put their deposits for seven years, with annual interest of 2.25 per cent.

In the past, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam had deposited 1.31 tonnes, for 1.75 per cent annual interest, with Punjab National Bank for three years. Later, the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust in Mumbai had made an initial deposit of 44 kg and then another lot of 160 kg.

The World Gold Council estimates 23-24,000 tonnes of gold is with Indian households. Independent estimates of the gold with temples put the figure at 3,000-4,000 tonnes.