Chaos as millions throng banks
Banks across the country opened up to long, serpentine queues on Thursday as millions of people rushed to their local branches to get rid of banned high denomination currency for new notes or deposit them in their accounts even as police maintained tight security.
Anxious customers thronged the branches much before the opening time--some at the crack of dawn – and had to wait for several hours to complete their transactions with senior citizens also not being spared of hardships.
Amid frayed tempers, there were complaints galore that the stocks of new hard-to-fake Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes were exhausted within hours though the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were being accepted by banks. Queues were seen at the banks several hours after they opened for public dealings.
In some interior areas, some banks and post offices reported that they were yet to receive new notes.
Security was beefed up in banks and ATMs even as people fumed over the idea of waiting in long queues on a working day.
In the national capital, as many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police along with quick reaction teams were deployed for maintaining security in banks in view of huge rush of people.
“Despite having money with us, we are struggling for basic necessities as grocery stores, DTC buses and other local shops are not accepting these notes. Now I have to skip going to office today to exchange notes as there is such a long queue that my turn will not come before another 3-4 hours,” said Kumkum Bhargav, a primary school teacher in Delhi.
Kunal Bhardwaj, a TCS employee said, “Those who have blackmoney will anyway find methods to get away. It is common man who will suffer. Now we have no option other than waiting in queues as there is no money for basic things as well”.
Some people said that the banks should have given tokens.
“In that case we would not have to stand in queue for long, we could have done other works. Then there are old people also in the queue,” a customer said in Kolkata.
After withdrawing money from a bank here, some persons were seen taking selfie with the Rs 2,000 currency note.
There was an incident of minor scuffle in front of a bank in Howrah over entering the bank premises.
Only a maximum of Rs 4,000 per person in cash in exchange for the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes was being given per person after submission of valid identity proof. Anything over and above this value was credited to bank account.
Mumbaikars started queueing up as early as 6 AM, nearly 3-4 hours before the banks open.
Several bank officials said most of the branches were witnessing unprecedented huge rush and therefore, they have sought the deployment of police personnel to to prevent any law and order problem.
The customers, however, seemed frustrated with some banks exchanging only Rs 2,000 with Rs 100 notes.
Airline and train tickets booked with old notes to be non-refundable
Government has directed airlines to ensure tickets issued using the now-withdrawn Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes directly from counters at airports are “non-refundable” following an unusual surge in such bookings since the high-value currencies were demonetised two days ago.
Stepping up the fight against the black money menace, the government has demonetised the two high-denomination notes, but their use has been allowed for select purposes, including purchasing tickets from counters for air travel, train journey and travel in government-run buses till November 11.
The government’s directive to airline operators came amid concerns that unscrupulous elements could be using air ticket booking as a means to convert their unaccounted cash into legal transactions by cancelling the bookings later and take back the refund.
Sources said the directive came from the “top level” in the government.
Aviation regulator DGCA has asked the airlines to strictly make sure customers booking through counters at airports using the withdrawn Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes are not able to cancel or get any refund for such tickets, they added. Facing shortage of currency notes of lower denominations coupled with heavy rush at booking counters, the railways has stopped giving refund for cancellation of tickets in cash and instead issuing ticket deposit receipts (TDR).
‘New Rs 1,000 notes with extra security features in few mths’
Government will re-introduce Rs 1,000 banknotes in a few months and also issue new series of lower denomination bills with enhanced security features. “In a few months, Rs 1,000 notes with new features will be brought into the market,” said Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das while addressing the Economic Editor’s Conference in Delhi.
Govt to accept old notes for utility bills till today midnight
Giving some more relief to common man, the Centre on Thursday said old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes can be used to pay utility bills, taxes, penalty and fees to central and state governments till midnight of November 11. Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das on Thursday tweeted: “Old notes to be accepted for payment of fees, charges, taxes etc.”