Indian banks lost Rs 2.17 lakh crore in the last four years by writing off non-performing assets of 525 defaulters, CNN-News18 reported on Thursday. The size of written-off loans surged sharply in the year after demonetisation, according to data from responses to Right to Information queries.

No data was available for the write-offs worth Rs 100 crore or more before September 2014. By the end of 2014-’15, non-performing loans of 109 borrowers worth Rs 40,798 crore were written off. In the next financial year, an additional Rs 29,178 crore of 90 borrowers was written off.

However, in 2016-’17 banks added as many as 144 new borrowers whose loans worth Rs 57,821 crore were removed from balance sheets – more than two times the amount added the previous year. This was the year in which the Narendra Modi government demonetised high-value currency notes in an apparent bid to curb black money. The measure reportedly sucked liquidity out of the system in the months that followed, with far-reaching effects on the economy.

This took the amount written off since 2014 to Rs 1.28 lakh crore by March 2017. In 2017-’18, banks wrote off loans of 182 borrowers to the tune of Rs 89,324 crore, taking the number of such defaulters to 525 since 2014 and amount written off to Rs 2.17 lakh crore.

Also read: Data check: Loan defaults by corporates have cost the state much more than farm loan waivers

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