Kolkata people in fix over refusal to accept high denomination notes

Kolkata, Nov 9 (IANS) People were in a quandary here on Wednesday over the reluctance on the part of many outlets to accept demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

This comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that counters at railway stations and toll plazas will accept the high denomination notes for at least 72 hours after midnight on Tuesday.

“We do not have enough small change to accept a Rs 500 note. So we cannot pay heed to every such request,” a woman posted at the Howrah station ticket counter said.

Serpentine queues of vehicles were seen outside the second Hooghly bridge toll plaza as operators grappled with returning change for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 given by commuters, besides having inhibitions over accepting the notes.

“There is a lot of fuss here. We are standing in queues for more than two hours and things are just not moving. We were told these booths will accept Rs 500 notes, so we brought them. Now the scene here is different. Where do we go?” said a harried car owner.

Many shops at Gariahat in south Kolkata remained closed in the morning over fears of a fall in business due to the demonetisation and the fact that banks and ATMs were closed for the day.

In some fish and vegetable markets, like the one at Hatibagan in the city’s northern part, buyers who were unaware of the development haggled with sellers over Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

“Some people are giving us Rs 500 notes after shopping and forcing us to accept it. How can we do that? They are saying they don’t have Rs 100 notes and are helpless,” a seller at Hatibagan market said.

However, at the Ultadanga market in the city’s north-east, sellers were game for the demonetised notes.

“We have spoken to our ‘mahajans’ (moneylenders). They say they have no problem accepting those notes. They will later change them for the new notes in their banks,” said a fishmonger.