Yet another Indian bank has had to deal with an unhappy customer reporting termites eating up his savings. Just recently, 48-year-old Ashok Agrawal opened a steel locker that he was renting at the United Commercial Bank in Pension Bada to retrieve some of his savings, which amounted to 150,000 rupees, only to find that termites had eaten the banknotes and rendered them worthless. Upon informing the bank officials of his unhappy plight, Agrawal was informed that this was not the bank’s responsibility and that the bank would not be reimbursing him for his losses, despite the fact that it was the lack of good termite control from the bank that led to Agrawal’s troubles.

The bank manager has gone on record as saying that it could not be blamed upon the bank as Agrawal had wrapped his banknotes in old newspapers, and that this might well be the source of the termites that had thus far been isolated to Agrawal’s locker. Agrawal insists that the bank should have provided for the possibility of termites by putting in place proper termite control and prevention measures, however, and that it is highly unlikely that the termites came from the newspapers he used. Furthermore, he asks how it cannot be the bank’s responsibility when he was being charged nearly 900 rupees per year for the supposed security of the bank’s locker.

This is not an isolated incident: Indian banks have a rather bad history when it comes to termite control and prevention. Not too long ago, in Bihar, termites went through several safe deposit boxes in a bank, eating up several people’s life savings and hard-earned money. The same thing happened in Patna, where money was again lost as the critters took over and began to feed on the paper money.

Early this year too, another incident proved even more costly as it involved termites eating about $225,000 worth of banknotes in a bank in the Barabanki district, where banknotes were stored in a room known to have a termite problem yet not maintained or given a proper termite treatment. As a result, the bank was charged with the responsibility of recouping the customers’ money. Agrawal, who intends to take his case to a higher authority, is hoping that this shall be the ruling granted to him as well. He intends to use part of the money for his daughter’s wedding.

Whatever the outcome shall be for Agrawal, it remains a fact that Indian banks and those placing their money in them should be a little more informed about proper termite control and treatment procedures, and a little more vigilant in following recommendations from pest control experts. Several banks have already sent out memos to their locations, warning staff to be extra-wary of termite infestation signs, just to be on the safer side.