“Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes not accepted here”. The posters with this message were seen across the city’s dhabas and eateries on Wednesday as the Centre’s midnight decision to scrap old currency notes hit them like a bombshell.
Their sales saw a 40 to 50% dip a day after scrapping of the notes. The city is known for its dhabas and eateries with a heavy sale all the time, but the day was rather subdued with hardly any rush in the town’s main markets.
Maninder Singh of Aagya Dhabha near Adalat Bazaar said that there was no point in accepting the old currency notes, which are now worthless.
“We only hope that the situation will improve in days to come as new currency will be in circulation from Thursday,” he said.
The Kohli Dhaba had only three customers with one of them Hardeep Singh saying that the move would definitely create temporary inconvenience for people, but it was a good step to eradicate corruption in the country.
Being a traditional market for marriage-related items, Patiala usually witnesses a lot of customers from far off areas. But, the entire Qila Chowk market had low footfall throughout the day. A shopkeeper, Sanjeev Kumar, said that during the marriage season, when they expect a good sale, the situation in the market was rather grim.
Patiala Vyapar Mandal president Rakesh Gupta said that the market was not expected to pick up at least for seven to 10 days since it will take time for the circulation of the new currency.
BUILDERS EXPECT BIG SLUMP
The city’s builders say that the move will hit real estate companies the most. A builder, seeking anonymity, said that the move will hit property deals and resale transactions, which usually involve large amounts of undisclosed cash transactions. “With the sector already facing slowdown, the latest move is not good for the builders and those who trade in property,” he said
The market is also expected to cause some price correction, especially for flats. “For now the impact is negative. But for how long it remains to be seen,” said a property dealer.
The government’s stamp duty revenue too is likely to be affected due to slowdown in land deal transactions.
TRAVELLERS FACE INCONVENIENCE AT TOLL PLAZA
Travellers faced a lot of harassment and inconvenience at the toll plaza situated on the Nabha-Patiala road here. The long queues were witnessed as the plaza face a shortage of small currency notes.
Almost, every traveller preferred to give `500 and `1,000 notes, which resulted in a shortage of smaller notes given in return.
Toll plaza employees took the money and asked them to wait till the change was arranged. Many of the travellers were made to wait for almost half an hour to get their balance from the plaza.
Satnam Singh, toll plaza in-charge, said that earlier we had instructions not to accept the scrapped notes, but later they started accepting them following government directions. “We have managed to arrange as much as smaller currency as we can. However, every person wanted to get his notes changed despite having change,” he added.
Kulwinder Singh, a traveller, said that he waited for almost 45 minutes to get his balance, because he had only `500 notes. “However, the government has made a great move to tackle black money,” he said.
MEDICAL SERVICES HIT
The health services in the district received a major hit due to the currency panic in the market.
Most of the laboratories refused to accept the scrapped notes for tests. However, some hospitals accepted these notes for emergency services.
One of the laboratories near the income tax office here received the notes for the test costing the same amount, and refused to accept notes for tests costing less than the note value.
City resident Deepak Baatish said, “We were refused emergency tests by a private laboratory. We also do not have enough `100 notes at home and we will have to wait for banks to reopen on Thursday. It was wrong to declare these notes illegal suddenly.”
A private laboratory owner said, “We are not accepting scrapped notes. We will insist on credit/debit card or online payments.?”
Meanwhile, some private hospitals claimed that they were accepting the notes till November 11 as per the directions of the government.
Dr Amarjot Singh Bahia from Amar Hospital, said, “For medicines, OPD, operations, we are accepting the scrapped notes. In the evening, we started requesting people to wait till the opening of banks for payments of indoor patient services. But, the medicines facility at the hospital would accept the notes as per the government order till November 11 midnight.”
Ritesh Khanna, a chemist in front of Rajindra hospital, said that they were receiving the notes as per the directions of the government, but it is not possible to accept a Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 note for a medicine bill below Rs 100.