The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pollution cry in bank plastic pouches
- RBI order against stapling currency notes blamed

The state Pollution Control Board (PCB) has summoned the authorities of the United Bank of India (UBI), many of whose city branches are reportedly using plastic pouches to pack currency notes, in violation of pollution norms laid down by the Centre.

The bank officials will meet the pollution experts on Wednesday to explain the situation that compelled them to use the plastic pouches. It is learnt that the PCB has received complaints from several persons accusing UBI of using plastic bags. So, it has decided to seek an explanation from UBI, which has 1,300 branches across Bengal.

The PCB has issued a letter, addressed to UBI’s general manager (recovery, operations and retail banking), on July 10, asking him to attend the meeting and clarify the bank’s position on the use of these bags.

Senior PCB law officer Biswajit Mukherjee said the bank had also issued a public notice, stating its intention to use plastic bags for packing currency notes. But the pollution control board has already banned such bags in certain parts of the city and in some heritage areas.

Moreover, the Union government has specified the size and other criteria of plastic bags that members of the public as well as several institutions, will be allowed to use, Mukherjee pointed out. The PCB will ask the UBI authorities whether they are following the norms laid by it and the Centre on plastic bags.

UBI general manager (recovery, operations and retail banking) A. Banerjee, asked to comment on the issue, said the bank was strictly abiding by the pollution control norms laid down by the Centre and the state PCB. He was confident the bank could convince the Board about its sincerity in checking pollution.

A senior official of the bank, on condition of anonymity, said that a recent guideline issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had compelled them to go in for plastic bags to pack currency notes. The RBI has asked all banks not to staple currency notes. Stapling causes severe damage to the notes and this the RBI wants to avoid, as the cost of printing notes has shot up significantly, the official said.

The UBI authorities, seeking an alternative to stapling notes, have decided to use plastic pouches instead, the official said. The notes will be counted in machines, packed in plastic bags and handed over to customers, he added. “The bags we are using are made of plastic below 80-micron thickness and fulfil the PCB norms,” he claimed.

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