An RTI filed recently by Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd.) revealed that the Central Government owes over ₹ 29.41 crore to the Indian Air Force.
The Air Force’s ultra-modern transport aircraft—the C-17 and the C-130J Super Hercules had been used during the demonetisation period in the last two months of 2016 to ferry the newly-issued ₹ 2,000 and ₹ 500 currency notes, according to an RTI reply.
PM Narendra Modi had announced the scrapping of the now old ₹ 500 and ₹ 1,000 notes on November 8 in 2016. This move saw 86% of currency in circulation, being sucked out of the system. There was an urgent need to, thus, replenish the flow with the new ₹ 2,000 and ₹ 500 notes issued.
According to IAF’s response in the RTI, their frontline transport aircrafts the C-17 and the C-130J Super Hercules, undertook 91 sorties to transport bundles of currency from security printing presses and mints to various destinations across the country.
Till November 8, 2016 there were 1,716.5 crore pieces of ₹ 500 and 685.8 crore pieces of ₹ 1,000 notes in circulation, totalling to an amount of ₹ 15.44 lakh crore. This was about 86% of the total currency in circulation, according to RBI and government data.
Commodore Batra (retd.), who had filed the RTI, got to know from the IAF that the force has billed the
government-owned Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India and the Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Ltd. to the tune of ₹ 29.41 crore for providing them services.
“I am of the opinion that the government should have avoided using defence assets and instead could have easily requisitioned the services of civil transport aircraft,” Batra told PTI. This situation could have been avoided, had the government fully prepared itself before making the announcement to demonetise currency notes of ₹ 1,000 and ₹ 500, he said.
During the FY 2016-17, post-demonetisation, the RBI spent ₹ 7,965 crore on printing new ₹ 500 and ₹ 2,000 notes, and new notes of other denomination. This was more than double the ₹ 3,421 crore the Bank had spent in the previous fiscal year.
The RBI, in its annual report for 2017, found out that, just 7.1 pieces of ₹ 500 note per million in circulation and 19.1 pieces of ₹ 1,000 notes per million in circulation, were fake currency.
According to sources, as much as 99% of the junked ₹ 500 and ₹ 1,000 notes had returned to the banking system, giving the Opposition to put the Central Government’s decision of demonetisation up for some serious questioning.