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On Friday evening, 35-year-old Zareena Biwi was happy that she had received Rs 3,000 as an advance to her salary. But there was a catch — all the money had been paid to her in old currency notes.
Zareena, a resident of Bawana JJ Colony in outer Delhi, who has been working in a shoe factory for the last 10 years, said that with no money at home, she has no option but to stand in a bank queue the entire day.
“At least I will be able to feed my children with this. I will stand in queue till I can get my money exchanged. I have requested my employer not to deduct my salary for the time that I’m away,” said Zareena, who stays in B block.
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Like Zareena, several other labourers Friday received an advance in old currency notes.
While some said they will stand in queue for six to ten hours, others will head to local brokers, who pay Rs 400 in exchange for every old Rs 500 note. Locals say they are forced to do this because the only ATM in the locality does not work, and the nearest bank is 1.5 km away. Bawana JJ Colony’s A-L blocks have a population of about four lakh.
Chobi, 30, who came from Kolkata 13 years ago, said she does not have the option of standing in line like Zareena. Chobi works in an automobile factory in the Bawana industrial area, and earns Rs 6,300 per month.
She said she was supposed to get her salary on November 10. “My employer wanted to give my salary in old currency notes, but I refused. If I stand in queue, I will lose a day’s salary, and I have children to feed,” she said.
She added that she will not cut a deal with the broker. “I have to work for four hours overtime to earn Rs 100. Why should I waste it? I am continuing the work with the hope that next month, I will get my salary in the new currency,” she said.
For some, the situation is even worse. Abdul Rahman, 56, who works in the Pragati Power Corporation in Bawana, said his employer has asked him to stop coming to work. “My employer paid my dues of Rs 1,900 in old currency and asked me not to come in. How will he pay us when he doesn’t have money himself? I am thinking of going back to Jharkhand and returning when all this is over,” Rahman said.