Ever wondered what happened to all the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes that you returned to the bank after demonetisation?
A year after the Central Government's move, tonnes of demonetised Indian currency are travelling overseas to be used in the election campaign in South Africa.
Itâ€™s all thanks to a Kannur-based company called Western Indian Plywood Ltd., which has been recycling these notes into hard boards since November.
South Africa goes to the polls in 2019, and these hard boards will be used for the upcoming election campaign, the company's Marketing Head P Mehboob told TNM.
According to him, around 800 tonnes of demonetised currency was received by the company from the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) regional office in Thiruvananthapuram.
Set up in 1945, the Western India Plywood Ltd is situated in Valapattanam in the northern district of Kannur, and produces plywood, block boards, flush doors, and so on.
Explaining the process by which the demonetised currency was used in the making of the hardboards, Mehboob says:
"After the currency notes came to the RBI, they were shredded and sent to us because we have the machinery to pulp these notes, which are of high quality. We manufacture hard and soft boards using wood pulp. Once we received the shredded notes, somewhere between 5% to 15% of the pulped currency is added to the wood pulp in order to make the boards. We use the technique of thermomechanical pulping to pulp high-quality currency."
The company has been into manufacturing plywood for several decades, but using demonetised notes in such a high volume was a sort of an innovation, Mehboob adds.
"The general practice followed by RBI is to dispose of the notes mostly by burning them. This time around, since there was a large number of notes to be disposed of, the RBI supplied it to us for recycling," Mehboob says.
The company paid a nominal sum of about Rs 200 per tonne to RBI.
While the company has been exporting their manufactured goods to several African countries and to the Gulf nations, this is the first time it is sending out hard boards that have Indian currency in them.
"Hardboards are used for several purposes as they are one of the cheapest materials. What's special about this batch of hardboards is that demonetised Indian currency has been used in them," Mehboob says.