After waiting an hour, 65-year-old Balwant Kaur managed to enter Punjab Gramin Bank at Nijjran village in Jalandhar district on Sunday to exchange two notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations. But her hopes were dashed as the bank could not give her 15 notes of Rs 100 denomination.
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An irked Kaur said, “First I went to Lambra bank and then I came here. But the officials are saying that they have neither Rs 100 notes nor new Rs 500 notes. Where will people like me go?”
Kaur, who cleans grain in the nearby market, added, “Kal Gurpurab hai te sadhe ghar na kuchh khan nu hai na gurdware chadan nu (Tomorrow is Gurpurab, the birth anniversary of first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak, and we don’t have anything to eat or offer at the gurdwara).”
She said she would request the kirana shop owner to give her rations on credit.
Roop Lal, 70, went to the same PGB branch with Rs 1,000 and met the same fate as Kaur. This time, though, a senior bank official managed to get the cash exchanged with his own notes and coins lying in the bank. “I need atta (flour) and I am really grateful to this bank official for helping me,” said Lal.
“We have 5,000 account holders, mostly labourers, landlords and some NRIs. We did not get Rs 100 notes in the last two days,” said Kamal Kumar Bhatia, manager of PGB’s Nijjran village branch.
“We appreciate the step taken by the government because it will teach a lesson to the corrupt. But due to shortage of new currency and old notes like Rs 100 and Rs 50, the common man and the poor are suffering a lot,” said Pawan Kumar, an account holder at the branch, adding that there was a shortage of small notes at all banks in nearby villages.
Yogesh Sharma, regional manager of PGB in Jalandhar Circle, admitted there was a huge shortage of Rs 100 notes in all branches of the bank. He added that they were expecting more supply in a couple of days.
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