Staff at the Fatehpur State bank of India branch were shocked to find over 10 million rupees ($225,000/£137,000) chewed and destroyed by termites.
State Bank of India Chief General Manager Abhay Singh told the Press Trust of India, “The branch management has been found guilty of laxity due to which the notes were damaged by termites in the Fatehpur branch of Barabanki district.”
The storage area in which the cash was held is known to be a haven for termites and is seldomly cleaned. Directives have now been issued for all branches to store cash in strongrooms and to check on them every two months.
Sadly, this is not the first incident of termites eating their way through savings, as Dwarika Prasad remembers well. In 2008, Mr Prasad lost his life savings after termites infested his bank’s safe deposit boxes, eating currency notes and investment papers worth hundreds of thousands of rupees.
The trader says he had deposited 450,000 rupees ($11,000) in currency notes, investment papers worth 232,000 rupees ($5,660) and some gold and silver jewellery in a safe deposit box of the government-owned Central Bank of India.
In his case, because the bank had notified customers about the termite infestation for several months, recommending the removal of all safe deposit contents, they believe they are not liable for his losses. They explain further: “The bank is not liable for the deposits kept inside the safe as it is only when a locker is found broken that the bank is answerable.”
Interestingly, this time around, Abhay Singh confirms the recent termite damage is the bank’s liability: “As it was the bank’s fault, it will bear the loss caused due to termites… there will be no loss to the public.”
I wonder how Mr Prasad feels about this latest gaff?