Anand Kumar, 23, who works as a back-end employee with an IT firm, has already spent ₹8,000 of his salary as advance payments to those supplying essential commodities in Chakkarpur village. Kuldeep Tyagi, 35, a driver who puts up with fellow drivers at a rented room in Sikanderpur village had to travel to his village in western Uttar Pradesh to get currency notes in lower denominations.
Ten days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes, tens of thousands of migrant workers who live in rented rooms in 39 urban villages such as Chakkarpur, Sikanderpur, Nathupur and Sukhrali, in the backyard of Gurgaon’s high-rises are gradually trying to come to terms with the cash crunch.
While paying provision store owners at the end of the month has been the norm for several people, some of them are now opting to pay up front to beat the cash crunch and difficulty to get change for the newly introduced ₹2,000 currency notes.
“Thankfully, I got the salary on November 5 and withdrew some ₹100 notes. I also managed to get ₹2,000 notes after the ban. I have paid shopkeepers from whom I buy essential commodities in advance,” Kumar from Jharkhand said. He works at IT firm Hyper Quality in Udyog Vihar and earns ₹16,000 a month.
Kumar’s roommate Ankit Raj, 25, from Bihar said he got some cash by queuing up outside an ATM for five hours two days ago. Raj works with a business management consultancy firm Ecs Limited.
“Since no one wants to part with lower denomination notes, I have paid ₹2,000 as advance to the general store owner from whom we buy perishables,” Raj said.
Tyagi, who works five days a week as a driver, however, did not manage to get cash in the city. So, he travelled to his village in Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh and borrowed some cash from his friends and family.
“I don’t know many people here (in Gurgaon). I went home last weekend and got ₹100 notes worth ₹5,000,” Tyagi of Baleni village in Baghpat said.
Over eight lakh migrants are settled in 39 urban villages that fall within the city’s municipal limits. Many of these villages have either come up along MG Road -- the mall mile of Gurgaon -- or are surrounded by DLF high-rises.
Rajni from Nepal works at a beauty parlour and her employer offered her a helping hand when she ran out of cash.
“My boss Menakshi was generous enough to help us buy some stuff using her credit card,” Rajini, a beautician at Bella Madonna beauty parlour in Galleria Market, said. Over 35 workers from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are employed at the parlour. Most of them, including Himanshu from Rajasthan, Jai Singh from Narnaul in Haryana and Anchit from Faridabad, said they did not face much trouble as they use net banking facilities.
“Apart from the first two days, there was no trouble. We mostly use debit cards and also stood in a queue at a bank to get cash. We get salaries in our bank accounts,” Jai Singh said welcoming the demonetisation move.
The problem, however, was acute for those who are paid in cash and came from distant states. Ahmad of Kolkata works at a restaurant in Cross Point Mall. He had to rely on his colleagues for hard cash to make ends meet.
“I didn’t have to worry about my food as we had it at the restaurant. I needed cash for rest of the needs. For that, I borrowed cash from my co-workers. Or else, I would have to go all the way to West Bengal as I am a stranger in this city,” Ahmad, who shares a room with a colleague at Chakkarpur village, said.
His colleague Pawan Kumar, from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, sought his brother Seetu’s help to procure some ₹100 notes that he has been using till date.
“My brother who works with a transportation company had some cash stored. He helped me with ₹100 notes. I will get new currency by queuing up outside an ATM,” Panwan, who lives at a rented room in Sukrauli, said.
Some entrepreneurs who used to pay their employees in cash also faced inconveniences because of the scrapping of high denomination currency notes. But, with the change in scenario, many people ensured that their workers opened bank accounts.
“The notes were banned after we got salaries in cash. We asked the employer to replace the banned notes but even he was helpless. Then, we got the old cash replaced at a bank,” Sunny, who works at a pub in a mall on MG road, said.
A shift to e-wallets is also catching up after the PM’s announcement. Sunil Singh, a driver from Rajasthan has opened an e-wallet account on e-commerce website Paytm.
“Even some cigarette shops and tea sellers have started using Paytm,” Sunil, who lives near Krishna Market in Chakkarpur, said.
While the situation remains grim, the migrant workers living in Gurgaon’s urban villages hope that the cash flow will normalise soon.
“They (Centre) have been saying that it would be normal in 50 days. Let’s see how it shapes up in the next 40 days,” Raj said.