The new magenta Rs. 2,000 notes have all been printed at a facility in India but, barring the design, the security features remain the same as the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, a senior government official told The Hindu .
“Since the decision to introduce the new notes was taken only six months ago, there was no time to alter the security features. Only the design has been changed but the security features remain the same as the old notes,” said the official.
India imports bank note papers from European companies like Louisenthal in Germany, De la Rue in United Kingdom, Crane in Sweden and Arjo Wiggins in France and Netherlands. Currently 70 per cent of the notes are being produced in India and in the next two years, the target is to achieve 100 per cent self-reliance, said the official.
But for the Rs 2000 notes, it was decided that all the raw notes would be produced in India and the Bank Note Paper Mill India Private Limited (BNPMIPL) in Mysuru, which started functioning in 2015, was given the task. For some of the new Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, however, imported bank note paper has been used.
The official said the decision to print the Rs. 2,000 notes was taken six months back and the Mysuru facility was asked to produce the raw bank notes. It has a capacity of 12000 MT per year. He said around 18 billion new pieces of notes are to be printed, which includes those of the Rs. 2.000 denomination.
An official explained that changing the security features is a huge exercise and takes anywhere between five to six years. The last time such an exercise was undertaken was in 2005 when currency notes of all denominations with new security features were introduced. Water marks, security threads, fibre, latent image etc. comprise security features and these require several representations, evaluations and finally a Cabinet nod.
India had blacklisted two European firms in 2014 amid reports by security agencies that the security features, which come embossed on bank note paper, were compromised and given away to Pakistan.
PMO’s inistence “These companies are in the business for 150 years; they will not hamper their trade by passing on information of one country to another. Some of these firms even print currency notes for smaller countries. After the investigations, it was found that the two firms had not compromised the security features and the ban was lifted,” said the official.
Another official said the production of the notes in India was pushed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). “The PMO was of the opinion that all the bank notes are imported from countries, which are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). If tomorrow, there is an embargo on India then the currency manufacturing will be crippled as we rely heavily on imports. With this aim it was decided to push the production in India,” said the official.
On being asked whether the new design would minimise the chances of counterfeiting the new currency notes to be faked by Pakistan, the official said, “It is not impossible. Only the design has changed but the security features remain the same. Pakistan prints fake notes at their government press,” said the official.