“I was down to my last Rs 100 when I went to the bank yesterday,” said 38-year-old Imtiaz Alam. After waiting in queue for over three hours, the bank teller told Alam that if he wants a withdrawal of anything higher than Rs 2,000, it could be given to him in Rs 10 coins.
The Jamia resident runs a small public relations firm and has been a customer of the Jamia Cooperative Bank since January this year. “I was told I cannot withdraw Rs 20,000 because the bank did not have enough cash and they wanted to cover as many customers as possible,” he said.
He needed money to buy a uniform for his daughter and for an upcoming work trip. Alam thought for a minute before accepting the packets of coins. “I urged them to consider giving me more cash. I am a current account holder with them and was carrying a self-addressed cheque. Bank officials asked if I would accept the amount in Rs 10 coins. I considered it for a moment and, given the circumstances, accepted,” he told The Indian Express.
As soon as he left the bank, Alam first used the coins to pay the cab driver who drove him to a restaurant for a lunch meeting. “Then I paid the restaurant with the same money and through the day, I paid everyone who had been giving me things on credit — the grocery store, the salon, etc,” he said. Alam received 20 packets of Rs 10 coins — each containing Rs 1,000.
“Demonetisation is a good move and I support the intent of the Prime Minister. But considering the country’s population and the reach of the banking system, this could have been planned better,” he said.
Noting that daily wagers in particular are bearing the brunt of this move, Alam said, “Even the salaried class is struggling with the restrictive upper limits on cash exchange. We can at least run our household with a credit line, shopkeepers know us and where we stay in the locality. Who will give credit to a daily wage labourer?”