By S Suchithra
Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India’s latest diktat restricting cash withdrawals from savings bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana to a monthly Rs.10,000 has evoked indignation among pensioners, daily wage earners and those dependent upon monthly remittances from relatives for subsistence. The government has yet to clarify whether electronic payments made from Jan Dhan accounts come under ambit of this cap.
The apex bank’s directive states, Jan Dhan savings bank account holders that are Know Your Customer or KYC compliant- meaning- they have submitted copies of their Aadhar card and Permanent Account Number (PAN) card can avail of Rs. 10,000 withdrawal in a calendar month while those who had opened such accounts under the massive nationwide campaign flagged off on August 28, 2014. People who had opened accounts using other documents such as ration cards and Voters ID card are considered as Non-KYC compliant and can withdraw only Rs.5.000 per month. The Central government has justified the move claiming it will help curb money laundering. The government suspects Jan Dhan accounts may be used by those holding large amounts of untaxed cash stashed away to deposit the proverbial ‘black money’ for conversion into ‘white money’ once the brouhaha over demonetization wanes.
The move is expected to hit economically weaker sections of the society hard- especially domestic helpers, daily wage earners, small craftsmen and hawkers as well as pensioners, especially in large metro cities such as Mumbai. The one-off withdrawal of Rs.10,000 permitted by the government is grossly insufficient to pay for essentials including house rents, utility bills, school fees and daily expenses considering the cost of living in this city. Further, it also puts these sections of the community to risk as carrying large amounts of cash on person renders them prone to robbery.
With cost of living having risen exponentially across India, rural folk that constitute the bulk of India’s populace will also find it difficult to make ends meet with a withdrawal cap of Rs.5,000 on Non-KYC compliant and Rs.10,000 from KYC compliant accounts.
Statistics indicate there are a total of 25.51 Crore Jan Dhan accounts held across India. Of these around 20 percent are non-Aadhar seeded accounts. They held approximately US$6.8 billion worth cash in Indian currency till November 8, 2016- when the Indian government announced the flash demonetization. An estimated Rs.64,250 crore were deposited into Jan Dhan accounts between November 11 and November 30- mostly in the now defunct Rs.500 and Rs1,000 currency notes.