The hitherto dormant Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts in nationalised banks have now sprung to life and are flush with cash in several parts of Odisha, thanks to demonetisation drive.
The post offices are also witnessing sudden upsurge of deposits of scrapped notes with inoperative accounts being made operational by account holders in a hurry.
Demonetisation has seemingly provided a lease of life to these accounts which were literally dead. Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts account for 3.75 lakh Jan dhan accounts, officials said.
In Odisha, the highest percentage of 59.50 per cent of the households in Kendrapara avail banking facilities followed by Jagatsinghpur with 58 per cent, they said.
With PMJDY account holders virtually making beeline at bank counters to deposit money and activate the accounts, there has been rapid spurt in the quantum of deposits in several of these zero-balance balance accounts.
While bank personnel acknowledge activation of such dormant accounts in large numbers and the rise in deposits, they preferred to remain tight-lipped on reports of huge cash flowing into such accounts.
An official of a nationalised bank said, "There has been impressive growth in cash deposits in Jan dhan accounts. We obviously smell foul-play. Though a ceiling of Rs 50,000 deposit has been fixed in these accounts, we have come across accounts exceeding maximum deposit limits. The accounts with excess deposit would lose PMJDY classification. These would be converted into general savings accounts."
Deposits in the accounts are largely in demonetised high-value currency notes, giving suspicion that unscrupulous elements might be using the accounts of poor and gullible to convert black money into white. We are preparing detailed list of such accounts which were inactive since day of operation. However, cash flowed into it after demonetisation. The list of 'suspicious' accounts would be submitted to the competent authorities, the official said.
These accounts occupied less than one per cent of the total deposit base. However, it has shot up to 3 to 4 per cent since cash began flowing into them.
Post the Centre's demonetisation step on November 8, most Jan Dhan accounts are subjected to their first-ever transactions ever since they were opened. There are instances of these accounts being switched to general savings accounts. Some account-holders have also resorted to tactics depositing Rs 49,000 to avoid PAN card submission, the officials said.
Several deposits of Rs 49,000 were found out to have been made in such replenished accounts, said the head of a nationalised bank in Paradip.
Like Jan dhan, misuse of mini-accounts, which could be
opened in banks without furnishing KYC and the deposit limit of which should not exceed Rs 50,000 at any point of time, looms large. The aggregate of all withdrawals and transfers in a month should not exceed Rs 10,000 from such accounts, said officials.
The customer service points of nationalised banks are entrusted with opening mini-accounts. Of late, applications for conversion of these accounts into general savings accounts are being received. Deposit of demonetised notes appears to be the sole cause for upgrading such accounts. The bankers are also keeping a tab on these accounts, they said.
There is every possibility that account-holders are being lured on monetary consideration by agents of rich people to lend their accounts to stash their ill-gotten cash. In all likelihood, those working in Paradip industrial belt as labourers and contractual labourers are becoming the soft target of these agents and middlemen. Most of these working classes have their Jan dhan accounts in banks in Paradip, said a banker requesting not to be quoted.
The post offices from both the district are also overflowing with cash in savings accounts. Dormant postal accounts, not subjected to monetary transaction since past three years, have been made operational by the account holders. Demonetised notes have also sneaked into such accounts, said an official of department of post here.
Three days ago, over 57 deposits amounting to Rs 75,000, all in demonetized Rs 1,000 scrapped notes were made in the head post office, said an official of Kendrapara head post office here.