With government repeatedly claiming that all preparations were put in place on November 8, the day demonetisation was announced, an RTI query has revealed that the RBI only had around Rs 4.95 lakh crore in the new Rs 2,000 notes.
According to Mumbai-based RTI activist Anil Galgali, the RBI's Rs 2,000 notes accounted for less than one-fourth of the value of its own stock of the old notes. On that day, the central bank had Rs 20.51lakh crore in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
"As per the RTI reply by RBI PIO Suman Rai, it is clear that the government was well aware of the gamble it was taking on a decision that had the potential to wreak havoc on the lives of 125 crore Indians," Galgali said.
“The figure -- Rs 494 was actually less than one-fourth of Reserve Bank of India's own stock of the to-be-demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which totalled Rs 2,051,166.52 crore that day,” Galgali added.
Surprisingly, the RBI did not have a single new note of the Rs 500 currency, which were introduced into the system only later, Galgali said citing the RTI reply.
An estimated Rs 15.44 lakh crore was in circulation in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8.
On November 8, besides the newly printed Rs 2,000 notes, the RBI held a total stock of Rs 23,93,753.39 crore or a mere 14.31 percent, in its kitty of the Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100 notes which continued to be legal tender.
A whopping 85.6 percent, or Rs 2,051,166.52 crore, was in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that were withdrawn as legal tender that same evening.
He observed that with 86.69 percent of available stock of currency notes being abruptly yanked out of circulation and replenished by less than one-fourth (24.11 percent) of the newly-introduced Rs 2,000 notes, "the decision to demonetise seems neither prudent nor practical".