Despite announcement by the government that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will be acceptable for rail and bus travel till November 11, several Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendras (YTSK) in Surat reportedly denied train tickets to people in exchange for the two bigger currency notes. Western Railway officials passed the buck as confusion reigned. Managing Director of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) Vijay Nehra put out a notice on Twitter, urging passengers to prefer online bookings and give change as far as possible in cash transactions. In another tweet, he said the buses would, however, continue to accept old notes till Friday.
He tweeted, “If ppl don’t treat bus stations and buses as money changers we should be able to serve genuine commuters. Operations were smooth today”.
Mangesh Chhabra, a textile trader who lives in City Light area in Surat, went to a tour operator on Ring Road which had a Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra (YTSK) to purchase a ticket for Delhi visit Wednesday morning and handed Rs 1500 in denominations of 500.
“There were many people who were standing in the queue and the travel operator refused tickets to those who came with Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. My mother is in hospital in Delhi and her condition is critical and there was an emergency. The railway ticket seller told us that he was following orders from the Railway office… There were 10 people who were denied tickets,” said Chhabra.
Another passenger Nilesh Punyani said, “I went to purchase ticket for Punjab this morning at a travel agency and he refused to take 500 and 1000 rupee notes. I had to attend a business meet and I don’t keep so much change. This is problematic.”
Manoj Kumar Jain, owner of Yash Tours and Travels, said: “We are ready to give Railway tickets to customers, but they have to give us change and not the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 as we have been strictly told by Railway authorities.”
When contacted, Western Railway Commercial Manager at Surat Ganesh Jadav said, “We have got orders from Western Railway Division to instruct YTSKs not to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. We are only acting on instructions from top bosses. However, we are accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from passengers at Surat Railway station.”
However, Divisional Railway Manager of Western Region at Mumbai Mukul Jain denied such instructions were given.
He said, “We have not given instructions to the Surat Railway Department officials to ask YTSKs not to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. If there is such a complaint then the passengers should approach divisional commercial manager at Surat.”
When contacted, divisional commercial manager at Surat Prakash Chandra Pal denied comment.
In Ahmedabad, people did not spare the BRTS in a bid to offload the old notes. A ticket window operator at Shivranjani BRT said, “Many people have come with Rs 500 notes. We have orders from higher authorities not to accept, so we cannot help. There are people who specially come for change only.”
Ticket window operator at Law Garden BRT said many people came to him just to exchange money.
At ISRO BRT station there was an argument when a passenger claiming to be a “government servant” demanded a written undertaking from the BRT operator against taking Rs 500 note.
A ticket window operator told The Indian Express, “I had to intervene in the dispute… We have no option but to follow the orders not to accept these notes.”