Mumbai, Dec 19 Indicating the levels of preparedness of the government, a RTI query has revealed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had a stock of only around Rs 4.95 lakh crore in the new Rs 2,000 denomination notes when demonetisation was announced on November 8.
City-based RTI activist Anil Galgali said here on Monday that the figure -- Rs 494, 640 crore -- was actually less than one-fourth of Reserve Bank of India's own stock of the to-be-demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which totalled Rs 2,051,166.52 crore that day. Surprisingly, the RBI did not have a single new note of the Rs 500 currency, which were introduced into the system only later, Galgali said.
On November 8, besides the newly printed Rs 2,000 notes, the RBI held a total stock of Rs 23,93,753.39 crore or a mere 14.31 percent, in its kitty of the Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 notes which continued to be legal tender. A whopping 85.6 percent, or Rs 2,051,166.52 crore, was in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were withdrawn as legal tender that same evening.
"As per the RTI reply by RBI PIO Suman Rai, it is clear the government was well aware of the gamble it was taking on a decision which had potential to wreak havoc on the lives of 125 crore Indians. This unwarranted hurry in demonetisation has resulted in the present financial crunch," Galgali told IANS.
He observed that with 86.69 percent of available stock of currency notes being abruptly yanked out of circulation and replenished by less than one-fourth (24.11 percent) of the newly-introduced Rs 2,000 notes, "the decision to demonetise seems neither prudent nor practical".