The family of Pralhad Ingole, a farmer who owns about 6 acre of land, is struggling in the absence of cash. The lone ATM in their village of Malegaon in Nanded district, operated by the State Bank of India, is not working. “The ATM stopped working as soon as the announcement (on demonetisation of high-value notes by PM Narendra Modi) was made,” Ingole says.
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“Malegaon is an agricultural village. Most of the residents are associated with farming and agriculture-related activities. Almost 80 per cent of the transactions happen through cash. Most of us are badly hit,” he adds.
The State Bank of India, Maharashtra Gramin Bank and Nanded District Cooperative Bank have branches in Malegaon. But only the SBI and Gramin Bank branches are dispensing cash.
Ingole says the two functional banks are dispensing Rs 2,000 notes, which have not helped the villagers much.
“No one has change for such large denomination notes. Many businesses have come to a halt,” he says.
“Essential supplies have not run low, but procurement of vegetables has become a problem as no one has change,” he says. Petrol and medicines are a problem too. “Small and medium-sized businesses still accept Rs 500-1,000 notes but they cannot give us change. And petrol pumps and medicine shops refuse to do so,” he says.
Nanded is in the drought hit Marathwada region, which witnessed several farmer suicides this year. After two consecutive years of drought, farmers of Malegaon got a good crop this year, but the demonetisation has affected price realisation.
“As soon as the higher notes were withdrawn, traders started fleecing farmers. They are offering Rs 2,500 per quintal of soyabean while the minimum support price is Rs 2,800 per quintal,” Ingole says. Farmers who refused the low prices have been asked to wait 10 to 15 days for payment.
“Traders are trying to take advantage of the situation,” Ingole says. He has stopped the sale of his 40 quintals of soyabean for the time being.
Malegaon village, where Ingole lives with his wife and two children, has a population of around 10,000.