Satyasundar Barik

Value of forgotten deposits crosses Rs. 100 crores

  • Postal officials count silent accounts every year
  • Over 800 persons show interest to revive accounts every month

    BHUBANESWAR: You might have forgotten a small deposit that you made in a post office during your school days. But the amount of such forgotten deposits has reportedly swelled over Rs. 100 crore in Orissa.

    Every year when officials of postal department sit down to count these forgotten accounts the number always crosses one lakh and value of these accounts is estimated beyond Rs. 5 crore.

    Though for the last three years these numbers automatically have been recorded in computer logbooks officials say on an average the department treated more than one lakh accounts as `silent account.'

    As per the figures available with the Office of Post Master General, Bhubaneswar, in 2002-2003 an estimated 1,24,456 savings accounts were listed in `silent account' category and the value was calculated to be around Rs. 5,69,44,408. Nearly 8,850 account holders in Baripada postal division had forgotten their accounts for a continuous period of three years. In Balasore, Dhenknal, Phulbani and Sambalpur, such account holders were 7640, 7258, 7991 and 8711 respectively.

    The number of silent accounts (2001-2002) were calculated to be 1,51,759 valuing Rs. 7,24,45,637.

    Period reduced

    Similarly, such accounts were 1,39,986 in 2000-2001 and 1,30,963 in 1999-2000.

    Till the year 1986, the postal department had been treating the accounts as silent if the depositor failed to transact for six years.

    But thereafter, the period was reduced to three years in 2004.

    Subsequently, the department started charging Rs. 20 per annum towards maintaining such accounts. Acknowledging existence of such a huge number of Silent Accounts in the state, Director of Postal Service Suvendu Swain said, "the decision to charge Rs. 20 was taken only to streamline administrative procedure.

    Till four years ago the department was maintaining the forgotten saving accounts free of cost."

    He said there were examples when people returned to claim their saving accounts after decades. But the rate of revival (updating) of accounts has been negligible in the state.

    Key factors

    Every month, on an average 800 to 900 people show their interest to revive the forgotten accounts.

    Postal officials say people started to ignore their accounts in post offices after banks made inroads to suburban towns in early 1980s.

    Another factor cited for abandoning of the accounts was heavy migration of people for jobs from one place to another.

    `Still have faith'

    Mr. Swain, however, says people still had faith in the postal department.

    "The banks only target creamy layer of the society whereas post offices are still valued for their brand and loyalty."