It was a moment of great joy for Babu Redani when he was handed over crisp notes worth ₹ 6,450 by the Reserve Bank of India officials, for the amount he lost after his house caught fire.
The 65-year-old farmer, the resident of Rann of Kutch desert in Surendranagar district of Gujarat was handed over the money last week, on Thursday, January 21.
The incident took place last year, on November 9, when the Redani's family had put a pot to cook food on a woodfire stove. Due to strong winds, embers of fire escaped and set his hut on fire. All belongings, including the money, were gutted in fire, reported Times Of India.
Redani had taken a loan of ₹30,000 for salt farming in the desert.
Fortunately, he had stashed the money in different spots in the house. He immediately went into the house and could salvage ₹ 6,450 worth currency. He then took the burnt notes to a local bank, where they said they could not help him as only RBI could exchange the notes.
Redani then went to Ahmedabad RBI window only to come back disappointed. The window where citizens could exchange mutilated and soiled notes were closed for many months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His case was brought to the attention of RTI activist Pankti Jog who wrote to the central bank urging the money to be exchanged on compassionate grounds to help the farmer in crisis. The letter also requested the bank to reopen the damaged notes exchange window to prevent more people from suffering.
"Initially, we were told to refer to the master circular, but when we urged that the exchange window was not operational for months, a committee meeting was convened," the media quoted Jog as saying.
Later, the RBI special committee met Redani and handed over the notes in exchange for the charred ones. Of the 17 burnt notes, RBI exchanged 12 at full value.