The Centre’s decision to do scrap `500 and `1,000 currency notes and banks and automated teller machines (ATMs) not functioning on Wednesday badly hit the normal life of the people, with many families falling short of money for marriage functions and running the household affairs. The commuters, auto-rickshaw drivers, shopkeepers and food outlet owners, railway ticket counters and petrol pumps had a tough time in saying no to customers with Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes
“Pukh laggi hai yaar, roti taan khwa de, paise baad vich lai layi” (I am hungry, dear friend, give me food, I will pay you later), said Sandeep Kumar at a dhaba on the Ajit Road in Bathinda, as the dhaba owner refused to accept the `500 note he was carrying.
“Customers are coming with Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that I cannot afford to accept as I have to get them changed from a bank later,” said the dhaba owner. “Many of the customers have gone back without having meal while some ate on credit promising to pay later,” he said.
The employees at the ‘suvidha’ centre at Bathinda were instructed not to accept the scrapped currency notes. Jasvir Singh, a village sarpanch from Kotli Sabo was caught unaware of the development, and faced the problem to get his arms licence renewed there. “I had no clue of this as I did not read the morning newspaper,” said sarpanch Jasbir Singh.
RUNNING A RACKET
Some middlemen also thought of running a racket. A man from Maur having `1,000 and `500 notes had to lose Rs 800 in getting `100 denomination notes. He got back Rs 3200 against Rs 4,000, so that he could easily pay for his weapon’s licence fee at the ‘suwidha’ centre cash counter.
Marriages schedules were also hit. Chetan, a Bathinda resident, said that his sister’s marriage was scheduled on November 11 and they could not make purchases as traders are not ready to accept the scrapped notes.
The real estate men and the goldsmiths had, however, a field day with several customers thronging them to encash their currency into immovable or gold assets, a report from Ferozepur said. “Those, who are having surplus cash with them, enquired about real estate options available within or in metro cities including Chandigarh, Mohali or Panchkula,” revealed one of the leading real estate dealers, pleading anonymity in Ferozepur.
Some real estate dealers had a field day, increasing the property rates by 20% and making deals by receiving lakhs in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from those who wanted to get rid of these notes as soon as possible. The goldsmiths in Ferozepur and Faridkot made huge profit with the sale of gold.
“Those who earlier made hue and cry in taking Rs 100 notes are now looking for the same as some approached me today to get their Rs 500 notes exchanged when the bank opens,” said a senior manager of HDFC Bank in Ferozepur.
In Moga, notices at petrol pumps stated, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes are no longer legal tender’. A cashier, Kashmir Singh, at the Vishal Mega Mart said that, the customers, without debit cards and having big currency notes only, had to return helplessly.
In Mansa, the decision did not go down well with the commoners, especially the migrant workers and retailers, who are without a bank account and lacked awareness about the issue.
“We earn on a daily basis and, suddenly, in the morning we hear about the scrapping of the notes. I don’t have a bank account in Mansa. We are dependent on contractors to arrange and exchange money for us,” said Ravindra Kumar, a labourer from Bihar. A petrol pump employee was busy noting down the details of the customer, who did not pay. “I am keeping their contact details to recover the money later,” he said.