An earlier RTI query filed by Subhash Chandra Agrawal had also revealed that it costs Re 1.14 to print a Re 1 note.
On the basis of the response to the queries filed by him before the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) under the Right to Information Act 2005, noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal has revealed that the “costly and undesired decision to re-start printing of one-rupee notes after two decades of discontinuing printing was a deliberate bureaucratic exercise to get signature of some top bureaucrat of union finance ministry on currency”.
Lamenting that public money was being wasted on the exercise, Agrawal said the response to the RTI clearly reveals that there is a craze among bureaucrats to have their signatures on rupee one notes “because only one-rupee notes carry signature of a bureaucrat in union finance ministry while notes of all other denominations bear signature of governor of Reserve Bank of India.”
He said the response of DEA dated February 21 had clearly established that when in February 2016 the then finance secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was to be transferred out of the ministry by the end of the month and the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) was in a position to supply just five million pieces of notes with his signature by then, “a hurried attempt was made to get the signature of the then senior-most secretary in union finance ministry Ratan P. Watal on the balance print order of 145 million pieces of one rupee notes out of the total 150 million pieces ordered.”
Agrawal said the file notings also revealed that the exercise for printing new one rupee notes with Watal’s signatures continued till February 2, 2016 even though he was to retire by the end of the same month. “Notes could not be practically printed because SPMCIL required four months time to print notes,” he said, adding that a letter dated February 16, 2016, from the legislative department had revealed that the required notification could not be issued in time because of amendments in file notings made with a pencil, which had given rise to apprehension of deliberate delaying of the process by some people in the DEA.
Incidentially, in 2015, Agrawal had also revealed through his RTI applications how the cost of printing one rupee note, which was then re-introduced after a gap of 20 years, was Re 1.14 and thus more than its value. His RTI query, filed with SPMCIL, had revealed the cost of printing one rupee note for financial year 2014-15.
“The cost of one rupee note is Re 1.14 [provisionally and unaudited] as determined in accordance with the principle of costing and costing module,” SPMCIL had stated in reply to the application filed by the RTI activist.
Agrawal had then pointed out how the printing of one rupee notes was discontinued in 1994 because of its high printing cost and a relative lower life span. Likewise, the Rs 2 and Rs 5 notes had been discontinued for the same reason and coins were introduced to replace them.
However, Agrawal had pointed out that the finance ministry had on December 16, 2014 issued a gazette notification for re-issueing one-rupee notes on March 6, 2015 at Shrinathji Temple (Nathdwara), Rajasthan. Terming the move a regressive step, he had then demanded a probe into whether the move had been initiated only “so that signature of top bureaucrat of union finance ministry may appear on these notes for becoming a historical feature in future.”