Kolkata: Shopkeepers buffer currency shock, accept demonetised notes to keep business running

“It is not that these notes have lost their values. As soon as the banks re-open, we will get these exchanged,” said Satyajit Roy, owner of Roy Brothers, a garment shop, at Gariahat Market in south Kolkata.

Written by Arshad Ali | Kolkata | Updated: November 10, 2016 8:56 pm
Activists burn effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, protesting against demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs1,000 currency notes, in Kolkata on Wednesday. Partha Paul Activists burn effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, protesting against demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs1,000 currency notes, in Kolkata on Wednesday. Partha Paul

IT WAS business as usual in different city markets a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi rocked the nation with his announcement of making Rs1,000 and Rs 500 denomination notes illegal from Tuesday midnight. Shop owners accepted ‘illegal tender’ without making any fuss about it, in absence of an alternative. “It is an honest attempt by the Centre to weed out black money and counterfeit currency. We have to chip in with our contribution. People have to understand that there is no need to create panic.

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“It is not that these notes have lost their values. As soon as the banks re-open, we will get these exchanged,” said Satyajit Roy, owner of Roy Brothers, a garment shop, at Gariahat Market in south Kolkata.

Prabhat Poddar, a dealer in utensils in the same market, too, was seen accepting the notes, unhesitatingly.  “I can’t keep on refusing customers. I will have to accept them as long as I have enough 100-rupee notes and other legal denominations to give them change,” he said.

A fish dealer said he was trying to keep the business going but was apprehensive about the availability of the currency notes.

“We are not refusing the customers but are worried how long we will be able to carry on like this because people from whom we buy fish are not ready to accept these notes.

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“Even the banks, after re-opening day after Thursday, will allow us Rs 2,000 each, which is far less than the money we need to buy our merchandise for even a day,” said Shantanu Poddar, a city-based fish dealer.

Outlets at various mall in the city, too, are making the most of the situation. ‘Meena Bazar’, an outlet at Quest Mall in Park Circus had sent out text messages to customers that they were accepting Rs 500 and 1,000 denominations.

“We don’t find anything wrong with it. People had been wondering if they would be able to shop with the 500 and 1000-rupee notes and we helped them out,” said a senior employee of the shop. While technically petrol pumps and hospitals were not supposed to refuse the denominations, they abided by the rule, but with a rider.

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“We are accepting the notes, but the customers have to take fuel worth Rs 500 or 1,000 because we dont have any 100-rupee note left,” said an official at a Hindustan Petroleum outlet in Ballygunge Phari.

A regional spokesperson for Indian Oil Corporation said owing to reports of complaints from consumers, the authorities have issued instructions to accept the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes till midnight of November 11. Chaos ruled at the fair price medicine shop of state-run SSKM with people complaining that the person at the counter was not accepting these notes.

“They have kept a condition that medicines worth of at least Rs 300 need to be bought to get a change of Rs 500 or 1,000. I need medicines worth Rs 100. Does that mean I won’t get any?,” said Kalam Mondal, who had come from Metiaburz.

Suraj Halder, who had come from Burdwan for his father’s treatment said, “These people had initially refused to accept the notes. They yielded only after a protest from hundreds, who have queued up here,” he said.