Housewife Krishna, 62, has turned her home upside down twice in the last few years, trying to find the Indira Vikas Patra (IVP) certificates that she and her husband had bought years ago to save money.
“I haven’t been able to find the certificates so far... But I am not giving up. They were worth Rs. 40,000,” she said.
Krishna is one of the scores of people who haven’t claimed their money for one reason or another.
The postal department recently told a Gurgaon-based RTI activist Aseem Takyar that the government had outstanding public funds to the tune of R1,164 crore under the Indira Vikas Patra.
The postal department had initially refused to provide this figure to Takyar when he first sought the information nearly a year ago. “Initially, they told me that they have not compiled this figure,” the public-spirited businessman said.
But the postal department finally gave in after Takyar got a favourable order from the Central Information Commission.
The IVP scheme was launched as a small saving scheme in the high interest regime of the 1980s. It required subscribers to buy certificates of denominations of Rs. 200, Rs. 500, Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 5,000 at half their face value. The certificates could be exchanged for the face value of the document after a specified period, which was initially five years.
The scheme was scrapped 12 years ago in the backdrop of mounting criticism that it helped people with black money to anonymously park their funds.
“Most of them must have withdrawn the money... they have the resources to keep track of the funds that are invested,” he said, pointing that the R1,100 crore outstanding probably belonged to the poor and middle class who may have misplaced the certificates.
It isn’t the only savings instrument lying unclaimed.
The public provident fund – a savings-cum-tax saving instrument that serves as a retirement planning option — has about Rs. 22,000 crore lying unclaimed in suspense accounts while banks – public and private – have another Rs. 2,400 crore lying around in lakhs of savings and fixed deposit accounts.