As much as Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts was waived off by 29 state-owned banks between 2013 and 2015. This figure is considerably higher than that written off in the previous nine years. The Reserve Bank of India, in response to an RTI inquiry by The Indian Express, revealed that bad debts climbed from Rs 15,551 crore for the financial year ending March 2012 to Rs 52,542 crore by the end of March 2015. This means that bad loans from public sector banks rose at a rate of 4% between 2004 and 2012, but increased 60% from 2013 to 2015.
State Bank of India, India’s largest bank, was found to have declared the largest amount of loans as unrecoverable – since 2013, its bad debts increased nearly four times, from Rs 5,594 crore in 2013 to Rs 21,313 crore in 2015. SBI’s bad debts made up 40% of the total written off by all other banks in 2015. State Bank of Saurashtra and State Bank of Indore were the only two banks with zero bad debts in the past five years.
The RBI said it did not have information regarding the biggest defaulters – whether they were individuals or business entities – whose bad debts amounting to Rs 100 crore or more had been declared unrecoverable. While the government has been trying to support public sector banks through equity capital and other measures, they wrote off as much as Rs 2.11 lakh crore bad loans between 2004 and 2015. More than half the amount – Rs 1,14,182 crore – was waived off between 2013 and 2015.