Rs 1.14 lakh crore of bad debts were written off by 29 state-owned banks between financial years 2013-2015, the RBI has disclosed in response to an RTI query filed by The Indian Express. This amount is much more than what was written off in the nine years prior to that.
According to the RBI, bad debts have increased by over three times in the last three financial years. While bad debts stood at Rs 15,551 crore for the financial year ending March 2012, it swelled to a staggering Rs 52,542 crore by the end of March 2015, the report adds.
RBI however said it did not have details of the biggest defaulters, which had bad debts of Rs 100 cr and above and which had been written off by public sector banks.
The RBI said that the "required information is not available with us," and that banks are required to report bad debts on a consolidated basis, the IE report states.
The State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB) have written off the highest number of bad debts in the last three financial years.
While SBI's bad debts increased from Rs 5,594 crore in 2013 to Rs 21,313 crore in 2015, for PNB it shot up from Rs 1,947 crore in 2014 to Rs 6,587 crore in 2015.
The State Bank of Saurashtra and State Bank of Indore are the only two banks to have shown zero bad debts in the past five years.
Since 2004, bad debts have declined just four times since 2004 with the last time being in 2011, the RBI said in response to the RTI query.
The IE report states, "In other words, while bad loans of public-sector banks grew at a rate of 4 per cent between 2004 and 2012, in financial years 2013 to 2015, they rose at almost 60 per cent. The bad debts written off in financial year ending March 2015 make up 85 per cent of such loans since 2013."
Correction: The earlier headline mentioned 2 years, it has been corrected to 3.