The Railways has turned down the Maharashtra government’s request to open counters at Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus for citizens to exchange their old Rs500 and Rs1,000notes.
During a review meeting on Monday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked the Bank of Maharashtra to open counters at CST and Churchgate — a move that could ease crowds at banks as lakhs of commuters visit these stations every day. But the Railways turned down the bank’s proposal citing security reasons. The Railways has asked the state to first put in place ways to manage crowds and address security concerns.
CM Fadnavis told HT on Friday his government will now request the Railways to reconsider its stance.
“We met Railway officials on Friday morning to request them to allot counters at the two stations, but they have turned it down. The government will take a further call,” said Sanjay Hiremath, the deputy zonal manager, Bank of Maharashtra. The bank has started counters at Nair Hospital and JJ Hospital, as directed by the government during the meeting.
Western Railways chief public relations officer, Ravindra Bhakar, said “We have asked the bank to address security concerns and modify proposals in a way that it does not lead chaos. We are waiting for the modified proposal .”
Sources in Mantralaya said the Railways asked the government to allows its employees manning the counters to handle the exchange. The Railways wanted the bank to hand over cash to its employees, but the government had refused to allow this. The source said it was against the protocol of banks, as the possibility of the new notes being misused was high.
Meanwhile, on the lines of a Central government initiative, the state considered paying a salary advance to its employees to reduce queues at banks. The proposal, however, has been dropped now for security reasons. “The finance department moved the proposal for advance ranging between Rs3,000 and Rs5,000 to Class III and IV employees. But we found it very difficult to implement it as the advance was to be distributed by 12,000 drawing and disbursing officers in government offices across the state,” said KP Bakshi, additional chief secretary, also acting chief secretary of the state.
More than 80%, or 10 lakh state employees fall under the class III and IV categories. The Centre has distributed Rs10,000 as advance, to be adjusted with the November salary and had advised states to follow suit.