On any other day, computer science student Pooja Durgade would be found immersed in her textbooks, as her MSc exams are going on. But on Thursday, she was busy making her third trip to the ATM located inside the university premises, as she had a bigger worry. “ I have to pay Rs 800 to my dabbawalla for the monthly tiffin subscription. I don’t know how to make that payment… it is my top priority now,” she said.
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Vrushali Khalekar, who is pursuing MSc in computer science, shares the same concern. “Since demonetisation happened, the ATM on the premises has not been working regularly. Even if our parents transfer money to us, how are we going to withdraw it… even if we don’t have any cash in hand for miscellaneous expenses, they are manageable as we can share the expenses. But food is an essential commodity,” she said.
Shweta Dhumad, a commerce student who is appearing for her last exam paper this week, said, “My account is not with this branch, so I couldn’t even withdraw money. Thankfully, my friends have been helping me out with small loans. However, now… I am going home and I am glad that this trying period will soon be over,” she said.
However, Savitribai Phule Pune University Vice-Chancellor Wasudeo Gade said he would take immediate steps to resolve the situation. “I have given instructions to the officials concerned that from December 2, notices should be put up addressing students who are facing issues while paying for food. They can have meals at the hostel mess… the payment will be deducted from their fellowship amount. For students who don’t have a fellowship, they can pay the due amount while they are paying their fees,” said Gade.
The situation isn’t much better for university employees. While they received their salaries on time, they pointed out that the money has not been of much use.
“The bank was allowing a maximum withdrawal of only Rs 3,000… how are we going to pay our domestic help and drivers, as well as pay for milk and groceries with this,” asked a senior university official.