Deposits in Jan Dhan accounts are surging relentlessly. In just 14 days — between November 10 and 23 — Rs 27,197 crore was added to these accounts, which was more than 60% of the inflows during the previous 770 days. It is obvious that these accounts, integral to the Modi government’s plan for financial inclusion and direct benefit transfer, are being rampantly misused by black money holders post-demonetisation, possibly with the involvement of bank officials.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his radio address “Mann ki Baat” on Sunday warned of strict action against those using Jan Dhan accounts to launder black money under the recently amended benami law. Curiously, Kolkata-based United Bank of India (UBI) has been receiving disproportionately higher Jan Dhan deposits. UBI, one-sixth of Bank of Baroda (BoB) in terms of assets, held Rs 7,238 crore in Jan Dhan accounts as on November 23, up from Rs 5,582 crore on November 9; BoB had Rs 3,269 crore as Jan Dhan deposits on November 9 and Rs 5,679 crore a fortnight later. Even UBI’s regional rural banks reported a 56% jump in deposits to about Rs 1,992 crore during the period. According to a report, West Bengal leads the pack of states where Jan Dhan deposits surged the most in the past two weeks.
The government had earlier announced that small deposits made in the banks by artisans, workers, housewives, etc, would not be questioned, up to an exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh.
However, there won’t be a blanket waiver from scrutiny for below R2.5 lakh deposits, sources said, given the spurt in Jan Dhan funds.
Since Jan Dhan accounts cannot hold more than R50,000 without know-your-customer compliance, the fresh deposits in them mostly tend to be slightly lower than that. Jan Dhan accounts, along with Aadhaar seeding and mobile phones, form the Modi government’s “JAM” trinity for financial inclusion. Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana in August 2014. As the government kept public sector banks on their toes, in just over a year, 25.68 crore accounts were opened and 19.52 crore RuPay cards were issued under the scheme, but it later turned out that a sizeable number of accounts remained zero-balance ones. Accounts with nil deposits were 77% of the total at the end of September 2014, but thanks to various government schemes and transfer of subsidies, only 23% of the accounts showed nil balance two years later.