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Problem of plenty, of a different kind

A daily labourer, who came from Jharkhand to Bengal for treatment of his ailing sister, went around a town for more than four hours in the sun and visited banks, shops, police station and even a district magistrate’s office to convert coins worth Rs 300 into currency notes, but got no help. The doctor allegedly held back the prescription till he was paid in notes.

kolkata Updated: Aug 26, 2017 12:45 IST
Koushik Dutta
Koushik Dutta
Hindustan Times
West Bengal,Birbhum,Suri
Too many coins have become a problem in many districts of Bengal where there are no takers of loose change.(HT Photo)

In post-demonetisation Bengal, loose change can cause untold misery as Nakul Roy, a daily labourer from Raniswar of Dumka district in Jharkhand, discovered recently. On Thursday in Suri town of neighbouring Birbhum district of Bengal, where he came for treatment of his ailing sister, Roy had to run around for more than four hours under the sun to convert coins worth Rs 300 into currency notes, since the doctor refused to accept the fees in Rs 10 coins that he offered.

Ashok Roy, the physician, refused to accept the coins and even allegedly kept the prescription with him till Roy paid him in currency notes. Roy alleged that he told the doctor he did not have notes, but he did not budge.

Read: Demonetisation fallout: In Bihar’s Vaishali, traders allege banks refusing to accept coins

“The doctor refused to hand me the prescription till I paid him in notes. I visited branches of banks and even approached administrative officials but got help from nowhere,” Nakul Roy told the media.

File photo of a retired person getting paid in coins from a bank in Jalandhar in December 2016. (HT Photo)

The poor man went on a currency note hunt throughout the town but none obliged him. He went to banks, administrative offices, shops and even the local police station. He started from the doctor’s chamber around 11:30 am and returned after 3 pm, sweating it out unsuccessfully on the streets of the town.

During the four hours that he spent running around, Roy’s sister, Urmila, who was suffering from fever, had to wait outside the chamber of the doctor. The thoroughly exhausted man, still clutching the bag of coins, sat beside his sister and waited for the doctor who still had the prescription with him.

Read: Rumours about fake 10-rupee coins add to demonetisation woes

The physician came out a couple of hours later and found the duo waiting outside his chamber. The sight moved him. He handed over the prescription and asked Roy to go home without accepting fees.

The doctor, however, denied refusing to hand over the prescription. “Since the man is very poor, I did not take any fee from him. I did not keep the prescription with me,” claimed Ashok Roy.

On Thursday morning, Roy travelled around 50 km from his residence in Raniswar village of Dumka district in Jharkhand to Suri.

Read: Bank robbery: Why 3 Delhi thieves stole only coins from Syndicate Bank branch

Since demonetisation a few districts of Bengal, like some other states, are facing a surfeit of coins. It is believed that after the note-ban decision, Reserve Bank of India issued a large number of coins in the market. Many traders are stuck with bagfuls of coins that none is willing to accept. Recently traders of bakery products blocked roads in Keshpur area of West Midnapore to highlight the problems triggered by the flood of coins.

D N Thakur, manager of state-owned United Bank of India, the lead bank of the district, admitted the problem of plenty. “We are telling all the banks to take coins, but not everybody is listening.”

“I don’t know what transpired. But I if a doctor holds back a prescription it is not desirable. There is also no any problem in taking the coins. We will look into the matter,” remarked Debasish Debangshi, secretary of the Birbhum district unit of Indian Medical Association.

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 12:45 IST