Money & Banking

Poll season: Jan Dhan account balances rise by ₹2,540 crore in three weeks

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 11, 2019

During March 6-27, 2019, the total balance in Jan Dhan accounts went up by ₹2,540 crore.

Bankers say en-masse money transfers will be looked into as part of suspicious transactions

Even as the first leg of general elections commenced on Thursday, balances in Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts continue to surge to record levels.

According to government data, in the three weeks of last month — during March 6-27, 2019 — the total balance went up by ₹2,540 crore.

While the total balance was ₹93,567 crore as on March 6, it stood at ₹96,107 crore as on March 27, 2019.

Notwithstanding the busy year-end closure work of banks, it is interesting to see the total number of accounts going up without any major campaign to promote PMJDY. The total number of beneficiaries went up from 34.87 crore in the beginning of last month to 35.27 crore as on March 27 — a net addition of 40 lakh new accounts.

In terms of States, Uttar Pradesh has the highest balance in these basic bank accounts for the poor at ₹17,568 crore, followed by West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan with ₹12,124 crore, ₹9,703 crore and ₹7,121 crore, respectively.

Incidentally, acting on reports of mass transfer of funds at a bank in Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), the Election Commission has ordered an enquiry.

“There have been sporadic incidents where en-masse money transfers have been done to PMJDY accounts across States and banks, which will be looked upon into as part of regular suspicious transaction reports. It takes time to establish cause for the surge,” a top official at SBI told BusinessLine.

A public sector bank in Hyderabad detected bulk transfers in Towli Chowki area indicating attempts to woo voters but is not ready to announce it officially yet.

At the same time, there is no guarantee that all the hike is due to illegal distribution of money for votes. According to bankers, Jan Dhan accounts could be operated by candidates or their supporters to evade adherence to bank account management or deposit/withdrawal norms of Election Commission. The withdrawal patterns should also be scanned, say bankers.

It remains to be seen if regulators will feel the need for finding reasons for patterns of surge in Jan Dhan accounts as the polling will continue till May 19.

Published on April 11, 2019

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