The Petroleum Dealers Association of West Bengal will approach Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday for assistance to avert what they expect to be a “law and order crisis” in Kolkata on Saturday.
The association held a meeting on Thursday regarding the “crisis that has arisen” due to the Centre’s demonetisation policy, making Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes no longer legally tenable. Petrol pump owners are bound by law and the prime minister’s directions to accept these notes and give back change, but only till midnight on Friday. Afterwards, they will no longer be accepting these notes.
“We have been facing unprecedented problems at our petrol pumps since the night of November 8. People have rushed to our pumps in hope of exchanging their money. People from other districts have also arrived. Most have bought petrol. But we have had to give them change. So yesterday, my petrol pump ran out of change and we had to turn people back. We know we have to accept these notes, but we no longer have any change to give. Many people have come to us with their problems, saying that they have sick parents or children, and desperately need the change. These sort of issues, the citizens problems, is the government’s responsibility. Instead, we have been forced to tackle them out of humanitarianism,” says president of Petroleum Dealers Association Tushar Sen, who owns a pump near Howrah station. Sen says that since petrol pumps are among the government sanctioned establishments which can accept the notes till Friday, a worried association will approach the state government in anticipation of what they perceive will be confusion and chaos on Saturday, and maybe even be a serious law and order problem.
“We will be talking to the Chief Secretary, Police Commissioner, DGP, anybody we can talk to, so that this can be averted on Saturday,” says another member.
“How this demonetisation has tackled the serious black money issue in the country I’m not really sure. Yes, it will take some amount of black money out of the system, but a miniscule amount.
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“Most of the country’s black money is parked in bank accounts in foreign countries. When the prime minister came to power, he had made claims that he will bring this money back and put Rs 15 lakh in every home. I am still waiting. We are sorely disappointed. The only thing that this policy has done is cause complete chaos, inconveniences and problems for the common man.’’