Millennium Post

Cash-Trapped Common Man

With banks closed in many parts of the country, cash-strapped people started making beeline outside ATMs from Monday early morning but with limited success as most of cash vending machines are running dry.

Scuffle and heated exchanges were reported from ATMs and banks from many parts of the country. Many sections of the society including small traders, restaurant owners, transporters etc started feeling the heat as the dependence on cash is very high.

Banks are unable to service as heavy rush making it difficult to handle the situation. 

There were reports of people not being able to make credit card payments on Monday. A 45-year-old farmer allegedly committed suicide as he was apparently upset over not being able to get his high-denomination notes exchanged for fresh ones due to serpentine queues in banks.

 Mirroring state of affairs across the country, ATMs in high security Parliament House complex as well as top government offices like North Block, that houses Ministries of Finance and Home, ran out of cash within hours, leaving the high-and-mighty high and dry.

Cash crunch in many parts was quite severe as banks were closed in North and Western India. 

Branches in the Southern India witnessed a huge rush of people for replacement and withdrawal of currency as weekly limit for withdrawal has been raised to Rs 24,000. 

The average waiting period in queue in the Southern and Eastern part of India was not less than 4 
hours and people were seen queuing up with the day break at branches. Many branches also reported cash shortages compelling people to return empty handed after waiting in the queue for long. 

Faced with cash crunch for meeting daily needs are making people frustrated and falling prey to black marketeers.

After government issued advisory banks have started making special arrangement for elderly and physically challenged.

In a bid to provide convenience to people, the Centre on Sunday eased key restrictions including raising daily withdrawal limit from bank accounts and ATMs as well as increased the amount of old and now defunct currency notes that can be exchanged.

To augment cash supplies, newly printed hard-to-fake Rs 500 notes were also released in market. After a review by Finance ministry, the limit of old and now defunct Rs 500 and 1,000 notes that can be exchanged for freshly minted Rs 2,000 and a new Rs 500 notes was increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 on Sunday.

Cash withdrawal limit at ATMs was hiked to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 a day. The Finance Ministry on Monday began a daily review exercise to assess problem areas and put in place remedial measures. Senior officials in the Finance Ministry have been allocated different states and banks to daily monitor currency supply situation and plan remedial actions quickly, official sources said.

Government has also set up a task force under the chairmanship of RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra to ensure that ATMs across the country are ready to dispense higher denomination notes in the shortest time.

“The number of ATMs which will be recalibrated and which can dispense Rs 2,000 notes will be stepped up...To make this whole process faster, to expedite this whole process, a task force was decided to be set up under the chairmanship of Deputy Governor,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said.

With banks struggling to cope with rush to get alternative currency, the government has extended use of old defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for paying household utility bills, fuel, taxes and fees and purchases from co-operative stores till November 24. Commuters will not have to pay toll at national highways till November 21.  

Railways announced that it would continue take payments in old notes till November 24, and one will not have to pay parking fees at airports till November 21.

Amidst unprecedented panic rush in banks and ATMs across the country, the Supreme Court would on Tuesday hear a batch of PILs seeking quashing of the government’s decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes on the grounds that it infringed citizens’ right to life and trade among others.

Little Consolation

1. Govt rules out demonetization roll back  

2. Govt sets up task force on re-calibration of ATMs

3. Deadline for payment of utility bills in old notes extended till November 24

4. No toll on national highways till November 21, no parking fees at airports for the same period

5. Railways will accept payments in old notes till Nov 24

6. No ATM charges till December 30

Oppn readies to corner Govt

The demonetisation of high value currency has triggered a full blown political war between a united Opposition  and the Modi government as Congress, TMC, AAP, SP, Left and BSP on Monday spoke in one voice to dub government’s move to root out black money as a failed step. The Opposition argued that in the name of curbing black money, common people are being made to suffer.

Hitting out at the Congress and other parties which are opposing demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the corrupt were upset while the poor were “enjoying a sound sleep” after his decision and urged people to bear some inconvenience to root out graft.

“After demonetisation, the poor are enjoying a sound sleep while rich are running from pillar to post to buy sleeping pills,” Modi said as he tried to rally public support in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, picking up from where he left on Sunday in his speeches laced with emotion and aggression in Goa and Belagavi. Stating that he understood the inconvenience being faced by people due to demonetisation, Modi compared his action to a new whitewash which gives out pungent smell, but is necessary.

Congress and seven other opposition parties on Monday met to formulate a joint strategy to corner the government over various issues including demonetisation that has caused inconvenience to the people ahead of Winter Session of Parliament beginning November 16.

Leaders of TMC, RJD, JD-U, CPI, CPI-M, JMM and YSR Congress met the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in his room in Parliament House and discussed the strategy on how to unitedly take on the government in view of the hardships faced by the common man after the denomination of high-valued notes. The meeting saw arch rivals TMC and CPI(M) coming together on a common platform against the government.

Among those who were present included Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Sudip Bandopadhyay and Derek O’Brien of TMC, CPI’s D Raja, Prem Chand Gupta (RJD), Sushil Kumar (JMM) and M Rajamohan Reddy of YSR Congress.

Besides Azad, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and the party’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma were present.

The leaders decided to meet again on Tuesday to finalise a common strategy as Monday’s meeting remained inconclusive in absence of leaders from BSP, SP, DMK and NCP. The Winter Session of Parliament starts from November 16.

After the meeting, Azad said there was consensus among parties against black money but equally everyone felt that the Government had leaked the demonetisation information to the ruling BJP and a “scripted scam”.

“There was consensus against black money in the meeting but everyone was against the way demonetisation was implemented. It came suddenly and the information was leaked to the ruling party while other parties learnt of it only two hours before it was to roll out. This is a scam and we will raise it in Parliament,” Azad said.  

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his statement that poor are enjoying a sound sleep after demonitisation, saying it is an “insult” to the common people.

“The PM in his speech said that the poor are sleeping peacefully. This is an insult to commoners and in bad taste,” the TMC supremo said in a tweet after Modi’s statement in Ghazipur. “My humble suggestion is not to hit the common people like this,” she said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that government had no game plan before making the big announcement on November 8 as people are seen struggling in queue outside bank. 

Kejriwal also said that an emergency session of Delhi Assembly has been called on Tuesday over demonetization crisis. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav gave a sharp reaction to Modi’s emotional appeal to bear the hardship for 50 days. “First he said things will get better in few days, then he said it will take 10 days. And in Goa he said 50 days,” said Yadav.

BSP chief Mayawati, on the other hand, claimed that Modi is losing people’s support after demonetisation as his rally in Ghazipur on Monday saw a poor turnout.
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