The Delhi Police has finally worked its way through the mounds of loose change it had confiscated from "careless spectators" during the Commonwealth Games in October.
In an RTI reply dispatched to a retired Dwarka-based freelance journalist Mahender Kumar Gupta, the Delhi Police has said that it collected close to Rs 3.5 lakh in loose change during the fortnight-long event.
"We had put up at least 90 boxes outside 11 venues to collect coins — an item that was on the top of the "prohibited items" list, during the event. The money collected was donated to various charities both in Delhi and in other states," said a senior Delhi Police officer, requesting anonymity.
All coins, regardless of currency and denomination, were among the 40-odd items that were prohibited inside various games venues.
The Delhi Police, however, had a peculiar method of collecting change before international aid agencies such as the Indian Red Cross Society were roped in for help.
"The Delhi Police were baffled when close to a lakh rupees in loose change were collected on the day of the opening ceremony itself, so they bought large, used canisters of Dalda ghee from junkyards and stuffed the coins inside them," said a senior official from the Delhi Chapter of the Indian Red Cross Society.
It was only on October 8 —five days after the event began —that the used canisters of ghee were replaced by official donation collection boxes belonging to the Indian Red Cross Society, the Cancer Aid Society of Lucknow, Help Age India and the St. John's Brigade, in addition to those from the local NGOs.
"The amount that was collected is estimated to be more than Rs 5 lakh, since we handed over the collection and counting process to NGOs during the last week of the games and had no records of our own to maintain," the officer said.
Suman Khanna, secretary of the Indian Red Cross Society's Delhi Chapter said: "We are thankful to the Delhi Police for allowing us to partake in the process.
She said the money they got was used at the Indian Red Cross Society's charitable hospital in east Delhi's Seemapuri.