New Delhi, Nov 9 : Chaos reigned at petrol pumps and Mother Dairy booths across the national capital on Wednesday as people made a mad rush to the outlets to get change for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes following the Narendra Modi government’s decision to demonetise such notes.
With most outlets running out of Rs 100 notes, fuel stations and milk booth operators faced a torrid time dealing with customers, that led to commotion and quarrels.
In his announcement on demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Prime Minister said such notes will be accepted for 72 hours from Tuesday midnight at petrol pumps and milk booths run by the government.
“Most of the people are demanding petrol or diesel of Rs 100-200 and giving Rs 1,000 in cash. We have already run out of change, but the people are unrelenting and the queues seem never-ending,” Brij Bhushan Tiwari, a city petrol pump owner, told.
“The government should have provided us with adequate change, especially 100-rupee notes, before implementing such a big decision,” Tiwari said.
“We are not here for money exchange. Most of the people are not willing to understand that,” he added.
Similar scenes were witnessed at other petrol pumps across the city.
Even as he hailed the decision, another city petrol pump owner said the government should have made prior arrangements before announcing the decision.
“Undoubtedly, it is a good decision and will help in curbing black money. But this has resulted in needless harassment both for pump operators and the common man. If we were supplied with adequate quantities of Rs 100 notes, these quarrels and arguments with the customers could have been avoided,” said the pump owner.
People having two-wheelers with low fuel storage capacity were faced with a problem as many petrol pumps were allowing purchase of fuel only in multiples of Rs 500.
“If I buy petrol of Rs 500, it will exceed the storage capacity of my scooter, so where do I store the extra fuel? I badly need to fill up but the pump operators are not willing to sell anything below Rs 500,” Rahul Chauhan, a college student, told IANS.
Since the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday evening, the demonetisation move has attracted reactions from all and sundry. Some hailed the decision, while others criticised the government for the “needless harassment”.
“I have run out of whatever change I had and I am compelled to ask customers to buy milk in multiples of Rs 500 or turn them back. Most of the customers do not require so much milk so I have to turn them back,” Brajesh Kumar Mishra, a milk booth owner, told IANS.
In reference to the government’s announcement, Mother Dairy on Wednesday released a statement, saying “all its booths will receive these notes till November 11 midnight” and requested its customers to use “cashless transaction options with SBI smartchange cards and Paytm”.
“All milk and Safal booths will be accepting these aforementioned denominations till the midnight of November 11 (Friday). The acceptance is subject to availability of smaller denominations. We request our valuable consumers to make use of cashless transaction options,” the statement said.
With ATMs remaining shut for the day and a massive shortage of Rs 100 notes, the demonetisation move has hit hard many of the small vendors.
“Unlike other days, I haven’t done any business today. Most of the people are not willing to shell out small change. They are offering Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 but I am a poor man, how can I afford so much change. This is affecting my livelihood,” said Swadesh, who runs a roadside eatery.
While many of the small traders and shop owners are upset with the decision, there are some who are using the opportunity to make extra money.
Some of the small general and provisional stores are charging Rs 50-100 from customers for accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
The people in Delhi also faced a tough time due to the lack of Rs 100 banknotes while hiring taxi and autorickshaws.
“I could not get any autorickshaw to travel from east Delhi to AIIMS hospital (in south Delhi) as no one was ready to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Every autorickshaw driver told me if I had Rs 100 note they could go anywhere,” a businessman Arpit Malhotra said.
Similar problem was faced by several other people.
Asked about the issue, most of the taxi and autorickshaw drivers told IANS that they were not willing to do so because they were also facing the same shortage of Rs 100 notes to return to their customers.