People across NE region throng banks to exchange money

Agartala/Aizawl, Nov 10 (IANS) There was a frenzied rush at most banks and post offices across the northeastern states on Thursday to exchange the now-demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and withdraw money.

As ATMs remained closed on Thursday for the second consecutive day in the entire northeastern region, people thronged banks since early morning to exchange the scrapped notes with new ones.

Even before the banks opened at 10 a.m., long queues were seen outside bank branches across the northeastern region and also at post office counters for replacement of notes.

“Out of the seven northeastern states, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur are yet to get the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination currency notes. We are not sure when the new currency notes would be distributed among the customers,” SBI Regional Manager Dipak Chowdhury told IANS.

He said: “Today (Thursday) people are only depositing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their bank accounts. In limited quantities, we are giving Rs 100 and smaller denomination currency notes. We are trying our best to make available new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 and lower denomination currency notes from Saturday-Sunday.”

“People are cooperating with the bank staff and there is no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Northeast. Most of the bank staff and officials are doing the note exchange-related work,” the SBI official said.

Chowdhury said a high-level meeting of senior bank officials was held in Guwahati on Wednesday to discuss the modalities to deal with the situation arising out of scrapping of the high-denomination currency notes.

Trade and business activities has been badly hit in the region, as most traders were refusing to accept the old Rs 500/Rs 1,000 notes.

Even the Tripura State Electricity Corporation, most jewellers, cooking gas dealers and travel agencies in Tripura were not accepting the old notes, putting a large number of people to great difficulty.

However, most petrol pumps and medicine shops in Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and other northeastern states were accepting the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

The situation in the neighbouring Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam was also no different.

Meanwhile, adequate security arrangements have been made at all bank branches in Tripura and other northeastern states to help both bankers and people in the transaction and prevent any untoward situation.

“The bank authorities had sought security at all bank branches. Accordingly, we have deployed armed security personnel at all bank branches across Tripura,” state Director General of Police K. Nagaraj told IANS.

Northeast Frontier Railway’s (NFR) Chief Public Relations officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma, in a press release, said the railway stations across northeastern region are not in a position to offer refunds immediately.

“Railway stations are not adequately equipped with money from the RBI to be disbursed as per the new mandate,” the NFR spokesman said.

The Tripura Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department told the petroleum dealers to avoid inconvenience to the public, and instructed them to continue to accept the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes until November 11.

–IANS

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