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Spike in Bengal's Jan Dhan accounts raises eyebrows

November 25, 2016 12:43 IST

In areas bordering Bangladesh, some have received strikingly high deposits in Jan Dhan accounts, said sources.

With deposits in Jan Dhan accounts in West Bengal after demonetisation at a peak, suspicion of these being used for parking unaccounted money is rife. 

Close to Rs 21,000 crore has been deposited in Jan Dhan accounts across the country since demonetisation, with the highest in West Bengal, it is reported.

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However, prior to demonetisation, too, West Bengal had the third highest number of Jan Dhan accounts among all states, next to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. As on November 9, there were around 24 million accounts in the state, with a collective deposit of Rs 6,286 crore. In terms of deposits, its position was second highest, after UP.

In areas bordering Bangladesh, some have received strikingly high deposits in Jan Dhan accounts, said sources.

According to a source in a public-sector bank, while for the first few days after demonetisation, banks in other sub-divisions received close to Rs 1 crore as deposits per day, some of the banks in a particular sub-division bordering Bangladesh received close to Rs 5 crore.

Against this background, bank branches have been seeking details of cash deposits above Rs 50,000. 

Kaliachak block in Malda district is often termed the gateway of fake Indian currency notes (FICN). According to sources at the Border Security Force, fake currency worth around Rs 2 crore was seized by it last year around Malda. This year, till October 31, the value of FICN seized was around Rs 1.35 crore.

There is speculation that the fake money earned from FICN trade is being used for parking money in Jan Dhan accounts. According to BSF sources, they seized FICN on Thursday, too, from Malda.

“It is difficult to know the reason behind the high amount of deposits in Jan Dhan accounts. Only after we do a detailed analysis would we know,” said R K Takkar, chairman and managing director of Kolkata-based UCO Bank. It has till date got close to Rs 1,600 crore of deposits from across the country in Jan Dhan accounts. 

At State Bank of India, the accretion in Jan Dhan accounts since demonetisation has been close to Rs 700 crore from West Bengal, Sikkim, and Andaman & Nicobar. The major accretion has been from Bengal alone, said Partha Pratim Sengupta, chief general manager, SBI. “That was from around nine million accounts; hence, on an average, each account received close to Rs 750,” he said.

Data from the Jan Dhan website showed till November 9, the total deposits in these accounts in Bengal were close to Rs 6,268 crore. The number of zero-balance accounts was around four million, of a total of 24 million.

According to sources, in a district bordering Bangladesh, the number of zero-balance accounts prior to demonetisation was around 30 per cent; this is down to less than 10 per cent.

Namrata Acharya