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The Election Commission wrote to the Finance Ministry Friday asking them to use indelible ink in banks keeping in view the commission’s rules for usage of the ink during elections. While Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are headed for assembly polls early next year, states like Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh have constituencies where by-elections will be held on November 19. There are reports that the ink is being applied on the right hand of customers to avoid confusion during elections, when the ink will be applied on the left hand.
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This week, banks in select metro cities started applying indelible ink on the index finger of the right hand of customers to ensure one-time exchange of old Rs 500, Rs 1000 currency notes of up to Rs 4500. The decision was taken by the government to ensure that black money operators would refrain from using other people’s accounts to exchange or deposit notes.
On Wednesday, 11 branches of country’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) and select branches of Bank of India, Canara Bank and the RBI’s Delhi office started using the ink on fingers of people exchanging old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. A top official of the Karnataka government-run Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd (MPVL), the only recognised producer of the indelible ink in India, said that it had received orders for 2.9 lakh 5-ml bottles, each costing Rs 116, from various banks by Wednesday evening. According to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to banks on Wednesday, the indelible ink “can be applied by the cashier or any other official designated by the bank before the notes are given to the customer so that while the exchange of notes is taking place, a few seconds lapse which will allow the ink to dry up and prevent removal of ink”.