Small shops, vegetable vendors and motorists seemed worst hit by the government’s surprise announcement to make Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes illegal from Tuesday midnight.
While many grocery vendors said they were surprised when customers tried to palm off their last Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination notes on Wednesday morning; motorists who rushed to fuel stations said they were refused change and forced to buy more fuel than they needed.
Wadala resident Hossain Najafi was turned away at six fuel stations along BPT Road because he did not have currency notes of lower denomination to pay for petrol worth Rs300-350. “My bike’s tank had some petrol in it. I only needed so much petrol to fill it up. But everywhere, I was asked to buy cold drinks or chocolates with the remaining money.” South Mumbai resident Sameer Tambe said he was refused fuel by a dealer in Lalbaug for not having enough currency notes in lower denomination. “A petrol pump employee was standing outside the station and asking every motorists if they had change. He only let in those who had change.”
A spokesperson for the association of petrol pump owners said they are aware of the problem, but were helpless as they did not lower denomination currency notes.
All through Wednesday, customers were seen offering Rs500 notes to buy vegetables and fruits worth Rs50, said vegetable vendors across Mumbai.
Pradeep Gosavi, a vegetable vendor in the Borivli market, said “Customers said they did not have change, even asked us to keep the change.”
Lalbachan Gupta, a fruit vendor, said people forced Rs500 notes on him. “I had not even made the first sale yet, but people were getting angry if I said I won’t accept the notes. I don’t have a bank account.”
Many vendors struggled to get their business started all day long. “I slashed vegetable rates by almost 40%. Even then, the sale refused to pick pace,” said Ankush Khairwar, waiting with his full vegetable cart.