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A DAY after its bold decision to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the government announced a series of measures to ease the transition process.
Amid reports of disruptions at toll plazas of national highways, metro train stations and airport taxi toll booths, the Finance Ministry issued specific instructions suspending payment of fee at toll plazas on all national highways till November 11 midnight.
The government also announced inclusion of private and government pharmacies, ASI monuments, LPG cylinder distributors, metro stations in the list of public utilities that have been granted 72-hour exemption to accept the old high-denomination currency notes, which ceased to be legal tenders from Tuesday midnight.
The government also announced that banks would remain open on Saturday and Sunday to deal with the anticipated rush of people wanting to deposit old currency notes.
“The government has decided to suspend payment of fees at toll plazas on all National Highways till the midnight of 11.11.2016. Instructions in this regard are being issued to all the concessionaires including BOT (build-operate-transfer), OMT (operate-maintain-transfer) operators and other fee collection agencies. The decision has been taken in order to avoid difficulties that may be faced by the highway users following instructions by the Ministry of Finance yesterday that currency notes of the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 will no longer be legal tender from 12 am today,” the government said in a statement Wednesday.
This response came after the respective departments brought to light the inconvenience being faced by consumers. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) chairman Raghav Chandra, officials said, took up the matter with the Prime Minister’s Office, after being flooded with calls from states over queues at toll plazas. Chandra also contacted the Finance Ministry.
While the initial list of places accepting old notes included railway stations, it did not include the metro train stations. So, until early Wednesday morning, there were reports of chaos at metro stations with operators refusing to accept old currency notes.
Following these reports, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said he spoke to the Ministry of Urban Development and a clarification was issued. “Railway ticketing counters in exemption clause includes metro rail stations,” Das said.