Only 10% of the total ATM cards issued under Jan Dhan bank accounts are in use in tribal dominated Jhabua district, highlighting the fact that success of cashless economy in India will not come easily.
About 50,000 ATM cards were distributed among Jan Dhan account holders in the past two years. Of them, 5,000 are in use, according to the district lead bank manager’s office.
“What is it (ATM card)? I don’t know. I only got passbook,” Jan Dhan account holder Kamatu Bai told HT. Another account holder Madhu Bai said: “I fear fraud. That is why I didn’t use Jan Dhan ATM card despite having it.”
“Since I don’t know how to use an ATM card, I don’t want someone to go to ATM and withdraw money for me as that person may cheat,” said Somala of Madhopura village.
Prime Minister Narendar Modi recalled old 500 and 1,000 banknotes from November 9 in an effort to tackle graft and undeclared wealth. Experts say demonetisation gives a significant push towards a cashless economy.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is aimed at providing banking services to all households in the country.
Situation is worse when it comes to use of Kisan Credit Cards (KCC). A total of 84,832 farmers were issued KCC in the district through 65 co-operative bank branches.
While 50,143 farmers were issued paper cards, which resemble small diary or passbook, 34,689 were given plastic cards. But, those having plastic cards were not using it for withdrawal or cashless purchase as they prefer cash transaction.
District collector Ashish Saxena said the administration would motivate traders and tribal people to opt for cashless economy. “We will educate them in this regard,” he said.
No money for farming, daily chores in Pachore
Surrounded by agricultural fields, cash-strapped Pachore village in MP’s Agar district epitomises hardships rural inhabitants are facing post demonetisation, as people get ready to go to neighbouring towns since the village lacks ATMs.
While focusing on the sowing season, many villagers could not exchange the now-defunct notes and fear that soon, there won’t be any Rs 100 or Rs 10 denomination banknote left with them for day-to-day expenditure.
“People in bigger cites have enough options and so, are unaware of the disastrous impact of demonetisation on rural India.,” said Pachore village head Panna Bai, 58.
“We are apprehensive about Government of India’s preparation and fulfillment of its stated goals,” said villager Ratanlal Bairagi, 65.
Bharajis’ 34-year-old nephew Nandaji Bharaji met with an accident recently and needs immediate surgery. But the old man needs to move either to Agar or Kanad to get money.
Pachore’s middle school headmaster Seetaram Mewad said, “We are facing problems not only with attendance of school teachers but also with disbursement of scholarships. One has to take a day off in order to go to the banks,” he said.
Farmer Keshav Bhai says, “Our crops are not selling at the right price, so we are giving them to traders on credit. We have no cash to cultivate the next winter crop, or even plan for it.”
Additional district magistrate Sanghmitra Gautam admitted that installation of ATMs in the village is not feasible as there are certain criteria which need to be fixed beforehand, such as security and frequency of transaction.