Modi’s “midnight strike” throws normal life in disarray!

Hyderabad: Normal life for the denizens, especially for the middle, lower middle and poorer sections went haywire following the “midnight coup” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in demonetizing 500 and 1000 denomination currency notes from Tuesday midnight.

Utter confusion and panic reigned supreme among these sections as many of them did not have lower denomination notes for immediate day-to-day needs as they felt poorer despite having quite a number of 500 and 1000 rupee notes. This is because shopkeepers, vegetable retailers, food joints, petrol bunks in many areas insisted for only lower denomination notes of 100s, 50s, 20s or 10s.

While many of them did not possess debit or credit cards to be used for petty daily needs, many others felt helpless without having lower denomination currency notes. Even ATMs, which were swarmed by customers since Tuesday night, could not come to the rescue of the people as either 100 rupee notes got exhausted or only 500 and 1000 denomination notes were available. As a matter of fact, it was the motorists and motor-cyclists with their vehicles with half-empty fuel tanks, were the most panicked sections driving them to petrol bunks to get the needed fuel. Despite the clear instructions from the Union government, many petrol bunks refused to accept 500 or 1000 rupee notes. However, some of the bunks obliged the customers by accepting the higher denomination notes only after producing Aadhar cards. Thus there were serpentine queues at almost all petrol bunks in the city.

There was a sudden slump in crash transactions with the banks remaining closed for the day and the ATMs to remain closed for two days. Many shop keepers and small traders have reported low turnout of customers affecting their normal business. Star hotels, bars and restaurants witnessed thin attendance as most of the customers were only having credit or debit cards.

Some sections of the people like servant maids, watchmen, security guards and others were badly affected as their salaries could not be paid by their employers, whose pay cheques were either deposited in the banks or they had only higher denomination currency notes. Travelers were also hard hit as they were caught unawares on reaching their destinations from far-off places. With lack of a lower denomination currency notes, they were forced to undergo indescribable difficulties.

Some house-owners were caught in a piquant situation this morning when the servant maids and watchmen returned their salaries paid in 500 and 1000 denomination notes, stating that currency has no value in the market. They insisted that they be paid in lower denomination notes but the employers did not have them and they were forced to plead and cajole their employees to wait for a day or two.

Serpentine queues of motor vehicles were seen stranded at many places of the Toll Plazas of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as the staff manning them refused to accept higher denomination notes. Lack of sufficient change of lower denomination currency and vehicle owners or drivers trying to make payment with higher denomination notes was also stated to be one of the reasons for vehicles getting stranded at the Toll Plazas.

The heavy rush at petrol bunks and other places is also a pointer to the situation that would prevail at banks and post offices on Thursday when people are expected to besiege them for either depositing or exchanging the 500 and 1000 notes. There are apprehensions that unless adequate arrangements are made, the sudden surge and scramble at the banks. With second Saturday and Sunday being holidays, it is likely to pose unprecedented problems and hardships.

-NSS

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