The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country's apex bank, has been using helicopters for remitting currency notes to banks located in the restive pockets of Maoist-insurgency hit Chhattisgarh, official sources said.
"About 150 branches of different commercial banks are located in the Maoist violence-hit areas of Bastar region, and due to Maoist dominance in the region and taking into account that they could loot the cash-carrying vehicles, the RBI has decided to avail air services for remittances to the branches," a source in the bank based in Chhattisgarh, told IANS.
He added that a decision to remit cash by air was taken based on intelligence inputs.
The source added that the RBI office of Nagpur caters to the cash requirement of banks in Chhattisgarh. Traditionally the currency notes were being sent by road from Nagpur to Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, from where it was transported to different branches across the state.
"But this time the trend was changed because we don't want to take any risks," the official added.
A senior official in the banking sector here said "The practice to use choppers for remittances to banks in the Maoist-hit areas started in recent months. The state government and the police choppers were used for the purpose."
"The choppers carry the cash to areas where helipads have been constructed. For other centres that do not have helipads, cash is still being taken by road under heavy security arrangements," the official added.
The General Manager of RBI, Raipur, Arvind Sharma, could not be contacted as he was reported to be on leave.
The 40,000 sq km-sprawling Bastar region is considered the nerve centre of Maoist militants in India since the late 1980s. In recent years, the rebels have carried out several deadly attacks on forces and civilians, including the massacre of 76 troopers this year in April in a single attack.