Business News/ Economy / RBI presses work 24x7 to pump out 500 notes

MUMBAI : The four currency printing presses of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are working round the clock to print 500 notes to replace 2,000 notes worth the 3.62 trillion being withdrawn from circulation, two people aware of the matter said.

This is because more customers are coming forward to exchange 2,000 notes instead of depositing them in their accounts.

A visit to Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar, the heart of the city’s gold market, revealed that crowds at bank branches have increased. Many customers Mint spoke to had come to exchange 2,000 notes at bank branches on behalf of their employers.

“One customer has been at the branch since 10 am. He deposited 20,000 in different lots," said an official at a PSU bank branch. “People are just walking in to exchange cash, while deposits have been fewer. Yet, the branch has breached the daily maximum limit for accepting deposits," the official added.

“I had come to exchange money on behalf of my seth (employer). Yesterday, I went to deposit money in my account," said Sumit, who works in the accounting department of a small textile business.

On Friday, RBI announced the withdrawal of 2,000 notes and allowed people to exchange or deposit them in their accounts before 30 September.

“Presses have the required printing capacity. A 40% increase in higher denomination capacity over the next five months will meet the target of replacing all the 2,000 notes. Currently, all the presses have stopped printing other notes and are focussed on printing only 500 notes," one of the two people said.

After 500 and 1,000 notes were demonetized in 2016, the RBI ramped up presses to print new 200, 500 andRs 2,000 notes to replace them. According to a PTI report, the RBI currency press in Nasik ran out of ink by April 2018, given the frenetic pace of printing. However, this time, the value of the currency being replaced is far less — 3.6 trillion against 15.4 trillion in 2016.

According to RBI data, the combined value of 2,000 notes peaked at 6.73 trillion in March 2018. Nearly 3.11 trillion of it was gradually phased out by RBI over five years by not putting these notes back into circulation.

During this time, RBI gradually increased the printing of 500 notes to touch 22.7 trillion as on 30 March 2022.

Currently, there are four currency presses in the country. The Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt. Ltd, a unit of RBI, owns one press each in Mysuru (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). The Security Printing and Minting Corp. of India Ltd own two presses in Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) and Nashik (Maharashtra).

Typically, these presses work in two shifts to print currency notes.


Gopika Gopakumar
Gopika Gopakumar has worked for over 15 years as a banking journalist across print and television media. Her expertise lies in breaking big corporate stories and producing news based TV shows. She was part of the 2013 IMF Journalism Fellowship Program where she covered the Annual & Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. She started her career with CNBC-TV18, where she also produced a news feature show called Indianomics and an award winning show on business stories from South India called Up South. She joined Mint in 2016.
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Updated: 26 May 2023, 09:06 PM IST
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