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People rushed to ATMs, fuel filling stations and cash deposit machines in a panic withdrawal-deposit that spread following the announcement to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on Tuesday evening.
Surat, a city that runs on liquid cash, given its diamond, textile and jewellery trading industry, saw chaos in the markets. Diamond trader Dinesh Seladiya of Varachha, said, “I have got cash stored in my house and majority of the cash is in the form of 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes. I have an account in a nationalised bank on my name, my wife’s name and my son’s name. All three of us are standing in a queue to deposit cash of Rs 40,000 each (of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination) in our respective accounts. The maximum limit of depositing cash at a time is Rs 40,000. Tomorrow, we will go to the banks again and deposit the amount in the banks. We don’t want our money to be rendered useless.”
Anil Mawani, a diamond merchant, said he never kept cash of Rs 100 or Rs 50 denominations. “I have cash of Rs 500 Rs 1,000 denominations in my pocket, but I cannot spend it. I have come here to fill petrol in the petrol pumps to fill one litre of petrol and get the change so that I can use it. Now it has become difficult for us to spend money to overcome daily expenses.”
Despite the government allowing petrol pumps, government hospitals, railways and bus stations to accept the notes, some petrol pumps refused to accept notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 denominations immediately.
Long queues were seen at gas stations and many people were refused exchange at the stations. Satyendra Bhatia, owner of a petrol pump in Vadodara, said, “People are coming with Rs 500 and 1,000 notes to fill petrol for a sum of Rs 100. We cannot provide so much change on such a day. So we are not accepting big denominations for smaller quantities of petrol or diesel.”
Satish Joshi , 46, an accountant at a private firm who came to deposit money at a machine in Vadodara, says “Only small and middle-class people will suffer as big corrupt people have relations with bank managers and I don’t think this will curb corruption.”
A retail major made hay of the annoucement and declared its stores open till 12.30 am and allowed people to spend denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. Big Bazaar sent out bulk text messages to customers asking them to shop till mid night.
A staffer at a retail brand located inside a mall at Thaltej in Ahmedabad told this paper, “While the mall is shut, the main entrance is kept open and so is parking. We have kept shopping hours till 12:30 midnight owing to the government’s announcement of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes being banned from tomorrow.”
Krunal Upadhyay, 29, a business manager in a pharma company, was in a queue outside an ATM at Naranpura to withdraw small currency notes for “daily use”. Amit Shah, 32, wholesale trader, and Jagdish Bhavsar, 60, consultant, had come to deposit money at an ATM in the same area.
Shah said, “I have come to credit the money in my account. I don’t want tension. I want to get rid of these notes. I am standing in the line for an hour. The server is down here. I have arrangements for the next few days.” Bhavsar said, “I have come to deposit the money as I have to manage my business transaction on time on November 10. The server here is terribly down. I stood in front of the machine for an hour to deposit. Those who come to withdraw can transact three times a day. Modiji spoiled Diwali of middle and lower-middle class with this hassle.”
At an ATM in Prahladnagar, women stood in queues for over an hour to withdraw money “to pay tuition fees” for their children or for a travel plan. A lady, who did not wish to be named, had sent her son to other ATMs, as she stood in another queue to withdraw money for their tour to Andamans by ethe end of this week. “I need large currency notes. To punish someone else, why should we be put in a problem?”
Satish Nair, 32-year old advertising professional in Ahmedabad, said, “I had withdrawn thousand rupees today and need to eat dinner at a restaurant and am wondering if they will accept the note owing to this announcement. I tried a couple of ATMs, but many are out of cash. It will be tough to manage money on November 9 as banks will also be closed and ATMs won’t work.”