How much more proof do we need that demonetisation was unnecessary?
Lakhs of people waited in queues for banks to open, sometimes for days, while politicians, bankers and black money operators made merry.
- Total Shares
A district cooperative central bank (DCCB), which has BJP president Amit Shah as a director, netted the highest deposits among such banks of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 demonetised on November 8, 2016, according to Right to Information (RTI) replies received by a Mumbai-based activist.
The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank (ADCB) secured deposits worth Rs 745.59 crore of the banned notes in just five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement. All the district cooperative banks were banned from accepting deposits of the banned currency notes from the public after November 14, 2016 - five days after demonetisation - on fears that black money would be laundered through this route.
According to the bank's website, Shah continues to be a director with the bank and has been in that position for several years. He was also the bank's chairman in 2000.
ADCB's total deposits on March 31, 2017, stood at Rs 5,050 crore and its net profit for 2016-17 was Rs 14.31 crore. Right behind ADCB, is the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, whose chairman Jayesh Vitthalbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani's government.
The bank got deposits of old currencies worth Rs 693.19 crore.
Interestingly, Rajkot is the hub of Gujarat BJP politics — Prime Minister Modi was first elected from here as a legislator in 2001. Incidentally, the figures of Ahmedabad-Rajkot DCCBs are much higher than the apex Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Ltd, which got deposits of a mere 1.11 crore.
"The amount of deposits made in the State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) and DCCBs — revealed under RTI for the first time since demonetisation — are astounding," Manoranjan S Roy, the RTI activist who made the effort to get the information, told IANS.
It has come to light that only seven public sector banks (PSBs), 32 SCBs, 370 DCCBs, and a little over three dozen post offices across India collected Rs 7.91 lakh crore — more than half (52 per cent) of the total amount of old currencies worth Rs 15.28 crore deposited with the RBI.
The break-up of Rs 7.91 lakh crore mentioned in the RTI replies shows that the value of banned notes deposited by the seven PSBs was Rs 7.57 lakh crore, the 32 SCBs gave in Rs 6,407 crore and the 370 DCCBs brought in Rs 22,271 crore.
Old notes deposited by 39 post offices were worth Rs 4,408 crore.
Information from all the SCBs and DCCBs were received through the replies. The seven PSBs account for around 29,000 branches - out of the over 92,500 branches of the 21 PSBs in India - according to data published by the Reserve Bank of India. The 14 other PSBs declined to give information on one ground or the other.
There are around 155,000 post offices in the country.
Fifteen months after demonetisation, the government had announced that Rs 15.28 Lakh crore — or 99 per cent of the banned notes worth Rs 15.44 lakh crore — were returned to the RBI treasury. Roy said it was a serious matter if only a few banks and a handful of post offices, apart from SCBs and DCCBs, accounted for over half the currency notes.
"At this rate, serious questions arise about the actual collection of spiked notes through the remaining 14 mega PSBs, besides rural-urban banks, private banks (like ICICI, HDFC, and others), local cooperatives Jankalyan Banks and credit cooperatives and other entities with banking licences, the figures of which are not available under RTI," he said.
The SCBs were allowed to exchange or take deposits of banned notes till December 30, 2016 - for little over seven weeks, in contrast to district cooperative banks which were allowed only five days of transactions.
The prime minister during his demonetisation speech had said that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be deposited in bank or post office accounts from November 10, till close of banking hours on December 30, 2016, without any limit. "Thus you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic," he had said.
After an uproar, mostly from BJP allies, the government also opened a small window in mid-2017, during the presidential elections, allowing the 32 SCBs and 370 DCCBs - largely owned, managed or controlled by politicians of various parties — to deposit their stocks of spiked notes with the RBI. The move was strongly criticised by the Congress and other Opposition parties.
Among the SCBs, the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank topped the list of depositors with Rs 1,128 crore from 55 branches and the smallest share of Rs 5.94 crore came from just five branches of Jharkhand State Cooperative Bank, according to the replies.
Surprisingly, the Andaman and Nicobar State Cooperative Bank's share (from 29 branches) was Rs 85.78 crore.
While Maharashtra has a population of 12 crore, Jharkhand's population is 3.6 crore. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have less than four lakh residents. The poorest of all the cooperative banks in the country is Banki Central Cooperative Bank Ltd in Odisha, which admitted to receiving zero deposits of the spiked currency.
Of the total 21 PSBs, State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India, Dena Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab and Sindh Bank, Vijaya Bank, Andhra Bank, Syndicate Bank, UCO Bank, United Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, and IDBI Bank (a total of 14 banks) - with over 63,500 branches among them -did not give any information on deposits.
Some of these events are inexplicable. In the huge demonetisation exercise, why were some banks fully supplied with spiked notes, while another 14 banks with 63,500 branches had no information on deposits?
This is clearly a scam which should be exposed without a cover up or partisan politics.
Thanks to the RTI by spirited individuals a massive hoax has been unearthed. The poor have suffered because the rural areas are largely under-banked.
Lakhs of villagers and those in small towns waited in queues for banks to open, sometimes for days as politicians, bankers and black money operators made merry.
Typically, no one has yet apologised.