DESPERATE TO get their old currency notes exchanged as the March 31 deadline approaches, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs) who still have the demonetised notes with them are daily queuing up at the Reserve Bank of India’s College of Agriculture Banking (CAB) in Shivajinagar area but find themselves being turned away by officials and security personnel.
The RBI and Finance Ministry has made it clear that only five RBI offices across the country – in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur and Chennai – would exchange the old notes. Only individuals who were outside the country between November 8 and December 31 are eligible to get the old notes exchanged. Infact, people queuing up at the CAB located on Ganeshkhind Road have been complaining that they are being told to head to Mumbai.
Surprisingly, a large chunk of people visiting the CAB are regular citizens who discovered old currency notes tucked away after December 31 – the deadline that was given to everybody to get the notes exchanged from any bank.
As per the RBI officials and security personnel, about 150 to 200 people visit the CAB office every day. “This has been happening for last three months. About 150 to 200 people visit every day. All we can do is advise them to travel to our office in Mumbai,” said a security officer at the entrance.
Jawaharlal Shaw, Assistant General Manager, CAB told The Indian Express, “All over India, there are only five RBI offices that are authorised for exchange in the given legal framework. It’s not something done by RBI. It’s a government notification and we have to follow it. We can’t exchange the notes here.” Shaw said that many times, the CAB officials have to face irate citizens.
“Sometimes the visitors get angry. Surround us while entering and leaving the office and raise their voices. We try to pacify them by telling them that even we are going through the same situation. We have relatives and friends who too have the demonetised notes and the only option for them to get the notes exchanged is to go to one of the five centres,” said Shaw.
On Monday afternoon, an elderly couple from Kothrud had come to exchange three Rs 500 notes that they discovered two weeks ago in the boot of their vehicle.
“We had deposited about Rs 2 lakh we had in 500 and 1000 denominations. This we discovered later. We came here to exchange the three notes. They told us to go to Mumbai. What would be more absurd than travelling to Mumbai to exchange Rs 1,500. Ideally, they should have made some arrangement here for the exchange so that people face less incontinence,” said the elderly man. Sukumar Rathod, 38, said that he was in the Netherlands for the last six months and has returned a week ago.
“I came here hoping to exchange Rs 10,000. They asked me to go to Mumbai. Which I can do if I’m sure my currency will be exchanged. I haven’t taken any authorisation from the Airport Authorities in Mumbai when I landed. I was not aware of it. These people don’t know anything, they just direct us to Mumbai. At least inquiries should be addressed properly,” said Rathod, a hardware engineer, resident of Upper Indira Nagar.