DeMo data gap for utility bills

Government had allowed exchange of junked notes as well as they being used for payment of utility bills for 23 services

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 11.03.19, 2:40 PM
  • Updated 11.03.19, 2:40 PM
  • a min read
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The old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The RBI has said in reply to an RTI query that it has no data on the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes used to pay for utility bills Picture by Shutterstock

The RBI in a reply to an RTI query has said it has no data on the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes used to pay for utility bills such as fuel at petrol pumps — payments that are anonymous and are believed to have formed a good part of the demonetised currency that returned to the banking system.

After the November 8, 2016, shock decision to ban the use of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the government had allowed the exchange of the junked notes as well as they being used for the payment of utility bills for 23 services.

Both Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be used at government hospitals, railway ticketing, public transport, airline ticketing at airports, milk booths, crematoria/burial grounds, petrol pumps, metro rail tickets, purchase of medicines on doctor prescription from the government and private pharmacies, LPG gas cylinders, railway catering, electricity and water bills, ASI monument entry tickets and highway toll.

On November 25, 2016, the exchange of old notes was stopped and the government allowed the use of only old Rs 500 notes at these utilities till December 15, 2016.

The government, however, stopped the use of even this currency at petrol pumps and for the purchase of air tickets at airports abruptly with effect from December 2, 2016, after reports that they were becoming fronts for the laundering of old currency notes.

In a reply to the Right to Information (RTI) query, the Reserve Bank of India said: “Information on (invalidated) notes used for paying utility bills is not available with us”.

As much as 99.3 per cent of the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have returned to the banking system, the Reserve Bank of India had stated in August last year, indicating that just a miniscule percentage of currency was left out of the system after the government’s unprecedented note ban aimed at curbing black money and corruption.