Manipur battles cash shortage, blockade

Imphal, Nov 14 (IANS) People in Manipur are battling a twin crisis: an ongoing “economic blockade” and a crippling shortages of cash.

So severe is the problem of currency that shopkeepers across the state are freely accepting the spiked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. But no balance is returned as smaller denomination notes have virtually disappeared.

Many are blaming the Reserve Bank of India for not airlifting the new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes to the state on time.

Besides, ATMs in the state are yet to serve the customers properly. Also, only small amounts can be drawn by cheques.

The situation has further worsened on account of the ongoing fortnight-old economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council, which has sent commodity prices soaring.

The crisis has spelt a windfall for those making a quick buck through illegal money exchange trade.

One can get any amount of Rs 100 and lesser denomination notes on payment of 20 per cent as “interest”.

And since people are hard-pressed for liquidity, the illegal money trade is thriving.

Meghajit Laithangbam, who works in a private company, said: “Since it is impossible to draw money from the banks, we are paying 20 per cent to get the required amount for our daily needs.”

Departmental stores, village shops, meat and fish sellers and other traders are freely accepting the demonetised currencies but with a rider that the entire money should be spent since there is no change to be returned.

In fact, no shop returns any change even if a customer pays Rs 100 or smaller denomination notes.

Chief Secretary Oinam Nabakishore said: “On our request, the RBI had despatched Rs 107 crore in new currencies. Now we have requested for Rs 304 crore more.”

Official sources told IANS that the central government had invited the United Naga Council for talks to hammer out a solution to the economic blockade as Manipur is now short of most essential items.

Because of the blockade, potato is sold in some shops for Rs 80 a kg, each egg costs Rs 15 and petrol is selling at Rs 300 a litre. Life saving medicines are not available.

–IANS

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