Thursday, August 5, 2010


There is an alternate to every unused & wasted resource

Many a times, the thought crosses my mind that if somehow I can find a way out wherein I can collect the untouched food that are left over after the conspicuous marriages and corporate meetings and distribute the same amongst the scores of people who are forced to sleep in an empty stomach! To sustain this concept, the only challenge is to cover up the logistics cost for pick up and distribution of food. Likewise, there are scores of untouched and unutilized resources that are getting wasted in the absence of real time mobilisation! On the same lines, a recent media report caught my attention. According to the report, the Centre is planning to utilise the unclaimed amounts that are lying idle in the nationalised banks for welfare funds. The reports further reveals that around Rs 700 crore is lying unclaimed, since a decade, with the nationalized banks. Matter of fact, on the death of an account holder, if the account remains unclaimed (most of the times, due to non-mention of nominees), the balance in the account is transferred to ‘dormant’ account mode. Similarly, in the case of non-maintenance of minimum account balance, the account gets blocked and the balance again is transferred to bank’s account. Over and above, there had been many instances wherein the legal heirs aren’t aware of the accounts owned by their parents and thus the account never gets claimed. Due to all this unforeseeable situations, a bank is left with huge corpus at the end of financial year. Most of the times, this money is used by bank itself for their internal development purpose or is transferred to RBI, in some cases.

Now this is just not a discreet case, similar cases also exist with various other institutions. Around Rs 10,000 crore is said to be unclaimed money with Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) as on March 31, 2008. Add to this is Rs 1,188 crore that is lying with Indian banks, across 1.93 crore dormant account, as on December 2008. Even in rural region, banks are sitting on an unclaimed deposits of Rs 1207 crore. Overall, if one calculates the total amount lying as dormant account across India in various financial institutions, it would collectively be around a staggering Rs 15,000 crore. Now, with so much that can be done with this money, it is foolish to keep it unused. If not for anything else, this fund can be utilised to develop proper sanitation for poor people (both urban slums and rural areas). In spite of various development initiatives, still around 65 crore people in India defecate in the open and more than 50 per cent of the people living in rural India have no access to proper sanitation. Knowing that the cost to build a low cost community Sulabh Shauchalaya is merely Rs 18,000, imagine what this fund can do. If utilised properly — Rs 15,000 crore can build more than 80 lakh toilets across India! This will further help in addressing the issue of diseases and infection that is a resultant of open defecation.

That was for an example, to indicate, what this money can do. It can also be used to carry out a campaign on fi nancial inclusion amongst Indians, which is pretty low. Likewise, so much more can be done. In fact, without depending on anybody, the Centre should involve the banks themselves and come together and take up this initiative through their branch network, which are spread across the country. All in all, the idea is to pro-actively locate such unused, undiscovered and wasted resources/opportunities and put them to use on an immediate basis. For a country like ours every bread wasted would leave an empty stomach, somewhere!