The Indian Air Force has airlifted over 165 tonnes of new currency notes from four printing presses to various parts of the country to cut down the time taken to transport cash from the source to main distribution centres to meet the surge in demand post demonetisation.
Sources said the Indian Air Force (IAF) was pressed into service on November 19 and it deployed AN 32, C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft and helicopters for this purpose.
“Helicopters were already used for transporting cash to some remote areas of the Northeast. But the use of transport aircraft is a new thing,” a source said.
The government roped in the IAF to cut down the transportation time for the delivery of banknotes after a shortage was felt in the market because of demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes.
Heavy transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF)–the US-made C-130J Super Hercules, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the C-17 Globemaster, manufactured by Boeing, have flown about 15 sorties in the last one-week carrying freshly printed notes from mints to distant regional centers of the Reserve Bank of India.
In an effort to ease the cash crunch after the Modi Government demonetized Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes on 8 November, the IAF was deployed. “We flew the first sortie on the 20th November and have been flying with cash since then,” a top IAF official told HuffPost India. The sorties will continue and sorties are only likely increase in the coming weeks, he added.
In the last week, the IAF has lifted 165 tonnes of newly introduced Rs500 and Rs2,000 currency notes. Sources, without going into details of how much money had been moved in the IAF planes, said the IAF lifted freshly printed currency notes from security printing presses in Nasik, Mysore, Indore and Salboni (West Bengal). The new currency was airlifted to Chandigarh, Trivandrum and Shillong–covering a wide geographical spread in the sub-continent, among other places.
“We have been tasked to make available the new currency at the regional centers of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for further distribution as quickly as possible. The Ministry of Finance and the RBI decides on which centres receive the newly printed currency,” IAF officials associated with the operation said.
Normally, currency is moved by a combination of road and rail links. And, places which aren’t connected by either roads or rail link, like far flung areas of the North East, currency is moved by air.
“Heavy transporters are being used because they can fly longer distances without having to refuel, reducing security risks. And also, heavy transporters can also carry heavier load reducing the time as against smaller transport aircraft like the Soviet-origin AN-32s,” a senior IAF official said.