Scramble for new notes leaves many distressed

  • Upset over ‘worthless paper’ woman commits suicide

Hyderabad: Thursday witnessed a mad rush at all the banks and post offices in Twin Cities with people trying to get rid of Rs 500 and 1000 notes and exchange them for new ones.

Since early morning, people had started descending on banks and post offices and by the time they reopened after a day’s closure, serpentine queues had already formed. Young and old, men and women were seen at all the banks, both private and public sector, besides post office branches.

Though the Central government and RBI, which have released the new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 denomination notes on Thursday, informed the public that an amount of only Rs 4000 could be withdrawn at present and there is no cap on the amounts that could be deposited, citizens, especially those belonging to the middle and lower middle classes, daily wage and contract labourers, vegetable vendors, housewives, etc vied with each other to reach the banks and post offices as early as possible.

The poor working class people like the daily wage earners, who were the worst hit as they could not make purchases of essential commodities, and the kith and kin of patients undergoing treatment in various hospitals and who could not either purchase the required medicines or clear hospital bills, were seen patiently waiting in the long queues before the banks.

Ironically, though the government had announced that the old notes could be exchanged at post offices, the new notes did not reach the post offices in time for currency exchange. This delay had inconvenienced the waiting people so much that some started cursing the government and officials. A harrowed senior citizen told NSS that they had to wait for over four hours to get four thousand rupees.

Another problem the citizens faced was the high denomination notes they got while exchanging their old notes. Though the amount was only Rs 4000 — exchange or withdrawal — they were given the new notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2000. Customers’ pleas for small denominations went in vain at banks and post offices. “What will we do with these big notes when we go for purchases?” lamented a contract labourer. “Small shop keepers and vegetable vendors insist on smaller denomination notes. But the banks or post offices are not giving the smaller denomination notes,” deplored a domestic maid.

The shutting down of ATMs for two days has compounded the hardships for people. Many who depended on credit and debit cards for cash withdrawals were stuck and they were forced to go to the banks. However, the unprecedented rush for the exchange of old notes only made their woes worse.

The ATMs are expected to start functioning from Friday after two days of closure and the banks have begun measures to fill the required cash in their ATMs. What is bothering many customers is that, though they could withdraw only Rs 2000 for the time being per day, they may not get smaller denomination notes which are essential for small purchases.

The Prime Minister’s bid to unearth black money and check circulation of fake currency had its tragic impact on a village woman. One woman in Mahabubabad in Telangana state reportedly committed suicide fearing that the huge amount she got after selling her land had become worthless.

-NSS

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