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Monday, November 14, 2016

Big depositors under scanner as Rs 5,000 crore dumped in all bank branches in J&K

60% deposits in Jammu, 40% in Kashmir in the last four days

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


SRINAGAR, Nov 13: Different agencies of the Government of India as well as the Government of Jammu and Kashmir have put all the big depositors under their scanner even as the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes worth Rs 5,000 crore have been deposited in the branches of different banks operating in Jammu and Kashmir in the last four days.

Officials of the Corporate Communication Department of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank pleaded that the guidelines from the Centre had barred all individual banks to share respective figures with media. Besides, compilation of the entire statistics on regional and State basis was “not possible for the moment” as it was a massive and hectic procedure changing every second. They said that some statistics could be compiled and the system streamlined in the next days, with the advantage of the first bank holiday on Monday.

Well-placed sources in the state Finance Department, however, claimed that total volume of the deposits in different branches of all the banks operating in Jammu and Kashmir was “around Rs 5,000 crore” since morning of November 10 to 1800 hours on November 13. Of this, around Rs 2,500 crore has been deposited in different branches of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank operating in the State. According to these knowledgeable sources, 60% of the deposits have been reported in Jammu division and 40% in Kashmir division.

Sources said that aggregate deposits worth Rs 2,800 crore had landed in all branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in the entire country on the first two days of the business on November 10 and 11.

Chairman J&K Bank, Pervez Ahmad, too did not respond to the calls and text messages delivered on his mobile phone from this newspaper. While as Senior President Business, S.K. Bhat, pleaded that he was on a tour outside the State and “not in a position to share the details”, Vice President in Strategy and Business Development Division, Tabbasum Nazir, insisted that the statistics could be made available only by her bank’s Corporate Communication Department.

Commissioner-Secretary Finance, Naveen Choudhary, told STATE TIMES that it was none of the State Government’s business to monitor deposits of the demonetised currency tenders. He, however, asserted that the Union Government’s decision had come as a boon to the J&K Bank as many of the defaulters were coming forward to liquidate their loans and revive their bad loan accounts.

Officials holding key positions in Finance and Police departments, nevertheless, revealed that a host of agencies from the State and the Central governments were keeping a vigil on the big depositors to ascertain the quantum of the parallel economy in the militancy-ravaged State. Sleuths from Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department to the State Police’s CID and CIK wings are understood to have planted their men in different bank branches besides activating their sources and contacts in the sections tabulating information on day-to-day basis in different banks.

“As of now nothing significant has been detected, though many of the people who have rarely visited a bank are coming forward with sizeable deposits. We have learned that some people have roped in scores of their acquaintances who deposit cash below Rs 2,50,000 each in their accounts to escape the IT eye. Some people, including religious and political leaders, are managing deposits in the bank accounts of political parties, religious bodies, charitable trusts and NGOs claiming the same as donations. It will take us time to learn about exact source of such deposits”, said an official.

According to him, property dealers, tour and travel operators, hoteliers, fast food businesses, marriage hall operators besides lawyers, architects and doctors in private practice, who normally hide their income and deposit money in different benami ventures, could be the worst sufferers.

Meanwhile, like all other States, most of the ATMs in Jammu and Kashmir turned dry several time a day in the last four days as the cash calibrated into the machines in denomination of Rs 100 notes exhausted within hours. Two ATMs of the State Bank of India in Jawahar Nagar Chowk, one located inside the bank building, were found cashless several times on Saturday. However, cash was available in both the ATMs of the J&K Bank in Jawahar Nagar and Lalmandi without break.

Government of India tonight enhanced the limit of the daily withdrawals from ATMs from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 each account holder. Limit of withdrawal against cheque or withdrawal slip was enhanced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 a day and from Rs 20,000 to Rs 24,000 a week while as the limit of exchanging the demonetised notes was hiked from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 a day. This will be operational till November 18.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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