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New Delhi: Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks crossed Rs8.50 trillion at the end of September 2017, minister of state for finance Shiv Pratap Shukla informed the Lok Sabha.

“Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has informed that the growth in provisions for NPAs of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in the first half of the current financial year (as on September 30, 2017 over March 31, 2017) was 9.5 per cent," he said in a written reply to the house.

RBI has issued directions to certain banks for referring 12 accounts, with fund and non-fund based outstanding amount greater than Rs5,000 crore and with 60% or more classified as non-performing as of 31 March 2016, to initiate insolvency process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, the minister said.

These 12 accounts constituted about 25% of the gross NPAs of the banking system, he said in another reply. In addition to these accounts, Shukla said, RBI has also issued directions to resolve certain other accounts within six months, failing which insolvency proceedings under the code will need to be initiated.

Replying to another question, the minister said there is no proposal under consideration of the government to withdraw bank cheque book facility. “While the government is committed to transform India into a less cash economy and promote digital and electronic transactions through multi-pronged initiatives, cheques are an integral part of the payments landscape and form the backbone of trade and commerce, by being negotiable instruments, which often serve as the security for underlying trade transactions," he said.

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