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‘Plastic coins will save India Rs 200 crore every year’

These plastic coins will also carry social awareness messages like ‘Save Earth’ and others.

Kiran Tare  Mumbai | 15th Feb 2014

Ravindra Palwankar

avindra Palwankar, a senior manager with Air India's Information Technology Department, had sent a project on plastic currency to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in May last year. The RBI forwarded the project to the Ministry of Finance. The Central government recently announced that it was serious about introducing plastic currency in the country. Palwankar talked to KIRAN TARE:

Q: How did you think of plastic coins?

A: When I was travelling on a BEST bus the other day, I noticed that commuters were finding it difficult to identify the coins given by the conductor. The Rs 5 coin and the 50 paisa coin look the same. The commuters had an argument with the conductor over the change. I thought if the coins were easy to identify such situations could be avoided.

Q: What is your concept of plastic coins?

A: I have conceptualised separate designs for plastic coins. I have suggested ingraining several social messages on them: a Re 1 coin will be shaped like the earth, with the message, "Save Earth". Similarly, Rs 2 will be triangular in shape with a message on "population control". Rs 5 will be of five coins spreading awareness on the importance of "saving the girl child". Rs 10 will bear a message on controlling AIDS. Every coin will have holes in them with the same diameter.

Q: What is the use of such different shaped coins?

A: The coins will not confuse people on their value like they are doing at present. The RBI spends Rs 350 crore every year on minting 57,800 lakh coins from metal. If the coins are made of plastic the cost will come down to Rs 150 crore. At the same time, the government will not need to spend any extra amount on social awareness campaigns because the plastic coins will carry the messages. If the government wants to change the messages after a certain period they can do it as per the need of the time.

Q: Why only plastic, not some other cheap metal?

A: High industrial grade plastic is easily available at a cheap rate. Its quality is equivalent to steel. It has a long life and we can mould it easily into any shape. We are already familiar with this plastic as it is used in knobs of our gas cylinders, washing machines, cars and cell phones. This plastic is a by-product. We can yield it more. We don't have to mine it. It is light so its transport cost is very low.

Q: There is a possibility that anyone can produce counterfeit plastic coins.

A: This will not happen. The government will have exclusive rights on the moulds of the coins. In addition to that, it can ingrain fluorescent holographic images on these coins as a security measure.

Q: How did you approach RBI with your concept?

A: I don't know anyone in RBI. I prepared a presentation and sent it to RBI headquarters by registered post. I thought they would not take it seriously. However, they acknowledged the mail and forwarded it to the Finance Ministry. It was a pleasant surprise.

Q: What is the status of plastic coins?

A: I think the Finance Ministry is considering it. I am not aware about the exact status. I have applied to the Indian Patent Authority for a patent on plastic coins. I will give it to the government so that it can use it for people's benefit.

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