The queues at the designated RBI offices are getting longer as the deadline for exchange of scrapped notes draws to a close on March 31.
The anxiety is palpable as holding of more than 10 notes of banned currency will become a crime for Indian residents after March 31.
But everyone waiting for their turn outside the central bank’s offices is not eligible to exchange their old notes.
The Reserve Bank of India has allowed Indian citizens who were abroad during November-December 2016 to exchange the scrapped notes up to March 31 while NRIs have time till June 30. But in both cases only deposit of old notes is allowed.
This facility is available at RBI offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Nagpur only.
While there is no limit for exchange for eligible resident Indians, the limit for NRIs will be as per the relevant FEMA Regulations.
NRIs need Customs authorities at the airport to certify the amount of the demonetised notes and this certificate is a prerequisite at the RBI office.
If turned down by Reserve Bank one can make a representation to the Central Board of the Bank within 14 days.
There are several people who have not been able to deposit or exchange the scrapped notes or have discovered them after the end of the demonetisation period on December 30, who are now making a last-ditch effort. A case in point is of the two orphans who sought the Prime Minister’s help after discovering Rs 96,000 in old notes. Such examples are many and are evident from the long queues outside the RBI offices.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal had said ineligible persons queuing up at the RBI offices were responsible for longer queues.
“Long queues are formed in Mumbai and Delhi only as a number of persons from the neighbouring states are turning up here. Several staff members have been engaged to attend to the large number of people at the counters,” Meghwal said.
While a PIL is pending before the Supreme Court for extending the window to exchange old notes, the apex court had also pulled up the government for inadequate options to rid of old notes. 86% of the currency in circulation was scrapped in one go by Narendra Modi on November 8, when he demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
The government had permitted people to deposit the same in banks up to December 30, 2016. And after that a window for deposit was opened at a few RBI offices.