With the opposition keeping up the heat on the government over continuing queues outside banks and ATMs for new currency notes, the Centre has rushed teams headed by senior officers to Nashik (Maharashtra) and Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) — the two locations where new currency notes are printed to personally oversee speeding up of the process of printing and distribution of new notes.
The presses are now working 24×7 and the staff has been promised financial incentives to get them to work extra hours and also give up on their holidays.
Sources told The Indian Express that the government has also asked the RBI, which also prints new notes at its Mysuru (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal) security presses, to speed up the process. While 65 per cent of the currency is printed at the RBI units, the rest is printed at government presses.
The teams, comprising senior functionaries of the Union Finance Ministry, are also working with various other agencies, including the Indian Air Force and commercial airlines, to ensure seamless airlifting of currency to various parts of the country.
With sowing season already on, the focus is on supplying currency to rural areas. Since scarcity of Rs 500, reintroduced with a new design, and Rs 100 notes is causing problems to those who have received Rs 2,000 notes, the focus is now shifting to these denominations.
“It has come to our notice that people holding Rs 2,000 notes are facing inconvenience in getting businessmen and shopkeepers to accept these notes due to shortage of smaller currency. We are now focussing on the smaller denominations. Also, since the sowing season has started, we are going to focus more on ensuring supply of notes in rural areas,” said a source.
The RBI presses, which are currently printing only Rs 2,000 notes, are also expected to begin printing Rs 500 denomination notes by early December, for which new machines are also being installed. The RBI has been asked to ensure adequate supply of the high-security paper on which the currency notes are printed.
While admitting that there were “some issues” with the supply, sources said the government expected the situation to return to “near-normal” by December-end. “There were some logistic issues which have mostly been sorted out,” said a source.