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Note ban: Queues, woes continue

Note ban: Queues, woes continue
The scene outside banks and ATMs continued to be chaotic on Saturday. Residents woke up bracing themselves to face a weekend jostling around for exchanging old currency notes for new ones at banks and withdrawing money from ATMs to meet their daily needs.

All banks across the country were open on Saturday witnessing usual serpentine queues with people waiting for hours for their turn. Banks across India allowed only senior citizens on Saturday to exchange scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, catering primarily to their own customers.

Though banks were open, they functioned during normal working hours and outsiders were not able to exchange their old banknotes. 

Voices of dissent continued to grow across the country with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continuing her scathing attacks on the Centre over demonetisation, saying she is all set to launch a movement from Monday if the Centre does not withdraw its order and allow the use of old Rs 500 notes till the situation stabilises.

“In the name of curbing black money, Modi government has looted common people. They have no money to buy vegetables, medicines and many students have failed to pay their college fees. Such anti-people draconian order should be withdrawn immediately,” she said adding: “I have not come to do politics. We must all feel for the poor and common man and must realise their suffering.” 

Sharpening his attack on the Prime Minister, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday alleged the Narendra Modi government’s announcement to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was not aimed at curbing black money but done to “create black money”.

The AAP leader dubbed it as the “biggest scam, worth Rs 8 lakh crore”. 

“Modiji is not serious about curbing black money. His intention is not good. This decision is to create black money,” Kejriwal said in a live video chat on his Facebook page. His Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, earlier met senior officials of Reserve Bank of India and wanted to know about the flow of new Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. 

On failing to get any proper reply from them, she said: “Not a single new Rs 500 note has reached Bengal. Even the RBI officials could not tell me when the situation will improve and kept mum on the flow of new currency notes.”

Calling Narendra Modi “the most arrogant Prime Minister,” she said: “The hasty and arbitrary decision was taken without proper planning. For the past 11 days, Rs 2.75 lakh crore GDP has been lost. Experts say that it will take more than a year to regain financial health. There is total financial breakdown and the country is heading towards financial bankruptcy.” She also stated that Modi is talking about debit and credit cards but only 4 per cent people have these cards. She asked what will happen to the remaining 96 per cent. She said the working class, labourers, many of whom do not have bank accounts are the worst sufferers.

After meeting senior RBI officials she went to meet the traders of Canning Street in Burrabazar. The traders, many of whom are supporters of BJP shouted: “Go back Modi” slogans. Hundreds of traders mobbed Banerjee once she got down from her vehicle. They said that for the past 11 days, business had been hit very badly. There are no buyers and Posta bazaar, the biggest wholesale market in eastern India, is reeling under acute financial crisis. 

In an incident, a 70-year-old man died on Saturday allegedly after he suffered a heart attack while waiting in a queue for nearly four hours to exchange old notes at the State Bank of Mysore branch in Cheluru village in Tumakuru district, about 105 km from Bengaluru, police said. 

Just how bad is the state at the banks post demonetisation,  ask Imtiaz Alam. The public relations professional waited for nearly four hours outside Delhi’s Jamia Cooperative Bank for his old notes to get his Rs 20,000 in Rs 10 coins because the bank had little cash. The money as he said weighs 15-16 kg. 

I-T notices to those depositing huge cash

Acting swiftly, the Income Tax department has issued hundreds of notices seeking “source” of funds from individuals and firms who have deposited huge amounts of cash in banks using the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes after November 8. 

Officials said the taxman has begun a country-wide enquiry in this regard and has issued notices under Section 133 (6) of the Income Tax Act (power to call for information) in various cities and towns of the country.

They said the notices were issued after banks reported to it certain cases of “unusual or suspicious volumes of cash deposits” in their accounts, primarily beyond Rs 2.5 lakh. 

“The notices are being issued where the department feels the cash deposits made in the demonetised currency is suspect. This is part of the vigil that the taxman has deployed to check instances of tax evasion, money laundering and black money in the wake of the demonetisation of the two high denomination currencies on November 8,” they said.  

No economic rationale behind note ban, says KC Chakrabarty

The Opposition parties demanding roll back of demonetisation move has got a shot in their arm as former RBI Deputy Governor Kamalesh Chandra Chakrabarty has slammed the government’s scheme saying that there was no economic rationale behind the ongoing note ban drive.

Chakrabarty, who was Deputy Governor of RBI between June 2009 and March 2014, said it won’t serve any purpose as such a proposal had been floated in the past too, which was rejected by the RBI. According to him, during the UPA regime, when the proposal had come up for consideration at RBI, it was rejected on the ground that it won’t serve any purpose and the cost would be high with lesser benefit.

On black money, Chakrabarty said: “When a person does not file income tax, the money that he is holding becomes black, but in the demonetisation drive, the government is killing notes instead of fellow who is not paying tax.”

Countering the government’s views on addressing the fake currency issue, Chakrabarty said: “If you buy a kilo of rice, there will be some small stones. What you do is remove those particles and not the entire rice. The law enforcement authorities should identify those notes and take action. Here people are standing in queues to get their own money because there are inefficiencies with the income tax (process), police machinery etc.” 
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