BENGALURU: Several officials of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) allegedly converted their black monies to white through the nearly 100 water bill kiosks that are set up across the city. The kiosks were accepting demonetised notes post the November 8 announcement. The Income Tax department has now issued a notice to the water supply department asking for details of deposits made at its kiosks.
With BWSSB’s present revenue collection going above Rs 95 crore a month, nearly Rs 80 crore is collected through cash deposits at kiosks that function similar to bank cash deposit machines. BWSSB had announced that water bills will be accepted only in old notes until December 15.
“Some people had, however, paid in new notes. A large number of Rs 100 notes and other lower value notes were available in the kiosks. This proved handy for unscrupulous officials looking for ways to legitimise their hoarded currency notes,” said a top BWSSB source.
The official had been receiving inputs about this malpractice taking place in kiosks located in its service stations. Elaborating on the modus operandi, the source said, “Officials who wanted to change their old currency would wait near the payment area. When they see customers lining up with new currency notes, they would inform them that they could supply them with old notes to pay the water bill. Four old Rs 500 notes can easily be exchanged for a Rs 2,000.”
The other method is to exchange the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in one’s possession with the Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10 notes paid by customers after the kiosk shuts. “There is no misappropriation of money. Just a neat conversion of illegal currency into legal currency,” the official explained.
This exchange is done after the day’s bill collection is completed and before the cash is deposited in Axis, HDFC and Syndicate Banks. “These kind of activities by BWSSB staff began on November 9 and still continues,” the source pointed out.
“Around Rs 40 crore could have been converted in the last one month. At least half the money deposited by public was in Rs 500 notes and so they remained untouched,” the source said.