The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) is perhaps the single biggest financial inclusion programme taken by any concurrent governments in other parts of the world.
With 24.27 crore accounts opened so far and Rs 42,504.7 crore of deposits received and 9.67 crore Suraksha Bima policies PMJDY is indeed phenomenal that the outreach programme has reached to the farthest corners of the country and connected even the illiterate with basic banking services since the nationalisation of banks happened in 1969.
Though the website of PMJDY speaks from rooftop about the achievements of the scheme, an investigation by the Express group reveals a different picture. The story behind ‘zero balance account’ reveals a different picture altogether.
A survey based on RTI filed by Indian Express brought the real story of the ‘zero balance’ account out in the open. Though a Finance Ministry have a different point to make, “Certain specific instances have been reported in The Indian Express of Re 1 deposited into PMJDY accounts… However, it needs to be appreciated that since the absence of balance in PMJDY accounts in no way diminishes the benefits associated with these accounts, there is no requirement of even a small balance in the accounts. However, in view of the specific instances mentioned, facts are being ascertained to assess if there has been any misunderstanding at the branch level of the objectives of the scheme,” the Finance Ministry statement said.
It is indeed a matter of grave concern that bank officials are depositing an amount ranging somewhere between Re 1 and Rs 10 from their own pockets in order to reduce the number of accounts with zero balance. Now the officials who deposit this meagre amount to certain bank accounts later on claim it back under the heads of various expenses that they are entitled to such as entertainment allowance, conveyance allowance, canteen subsidy, office maintenance funds, and fee obtained for demand drafts and online transfers.
The matter becomes more serious as anyone can walk into a bank with a valid account number and deposit any amount the source of which may not be traceable which can in effect convert black money being converted to white.
The number of zero balance accounts have reduced significantly from 76 percent in September 2014 to 45.74 percent in August 19, 2015. As on July 27, 2016 the number of zero balance account stood at 24.32 percent.