Farm to factories, brick kilns to cane crushers. Demonetisation pinches all

Sadiq Naqvi | First published: 21 November 2016, 16:03 IST
A crowd awaits cash outside a Syndicate Bank branch at Khawaja Nagla village in western Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district.
Manas Gurung/Catch News

  • Narendra Modi's demonetisation move has put all sections in a spot
  • In western UP, daily schedules of villagers have gone for a toss
  • There is not enough to cash to purchase goods, make payments
  • Farmers, labourers, businessmen - all are have suffered
  • Local bank branches don't have enough cash to distribute

About 50 villagers gathered at the Syndicate Bank branch in Khawaja Nangla village in Baraut, 90 kilometres from the National Capital, are livid. "The branch is giving out cash after five days," Vikas Chaudhary, a local farmer, said. "I have been standing in the queue here since 6 am," says Kasim Ahmad, a septuagenarian.

While the demonetisation move is being hailed 'great' by the poor and the lower middle class, as they see it as an attack on the rich and the corrupt, the subsequent shortage of new currency notes has made a mess of the rural economy, and brought misery to daily lives. The Narendra Modi government is losing the political gains of the decision rapidly, as the situation does not seem to be getting anywhere close to normal.

According to a private bank official in western Uttar Pradesh, banks are running on a tenth of the cash. Local cottage industries and mandis are shutting down for want of cash and customers. While the Baghpat district has a good network of banks even in rural pockets, none of them have had a regular supply of cash since 9 November, locals complain.

Manas Gurung/Catch News

Anger & helplessness

"Every day, we have to go back empty-handed," a local points out as another elderly handicapped man, with both his legs amputated, emerges from the bank, with wads of Rs 10 notes. "They are giving merely Rs 2000 each today," he says as he checks for torn notes in his bundle of tenners and manages to find some. The official withdrawal limit was set at Rs 24,000.

There are other desperate people waiting in the queue, including a woman who has come to withdraw cash for her daughter's wedding, armed with an invitation as proof. There are several others like her in the queue.

"How does one work and earn a living if one has to come stand in the queue every day," another villager asks. "We are against black money. We do not have to worry about that aspect. It targets the rich. But the bank managers are quietly giving cash to the banias (a loose reference to traders) as we are being turned back every day," he claims, sans any credible evidence of the complicity of bank officials.

"Over Rs 200 crore has been deposited in Baghpat district alone, but the banks have only been able to distribute a little more than Rs 5 crore," claims Arun Tomar, a farmer, and a businessman.

"Farmers like us have no black money,"says Munesh Barwala. "We are against corruption. But why has the prime minister taken a decision without proper planning?" he asks.

"First we were told it's a matter of a week. Now the prime minister says it will take 50 days. Others are claiming it will take months. What are we supposed to do till then?"

At a loss

"Banks have no money. How do we sow wheat and mustard?" asks Satbeer Fauji, a former sarpanch of Sirsali village.

"The societies and krishi kendras take cash," he explains adding how the subsidy on purchase of seeds comes into the bank accounts which cannot be accessed easily these days. People are dying in queues. Many people are forced to go hungry because they have no money, Fauji adds.