RBI refuses to exchange old notes

Only NRIs, those who were abroad can swap currency in 5 cities; B'luru not on list

RBI refuses to exchange old notes

People who came all the way to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Bengaluru from different parts of the state were greeted at the gate by a notice reading ‘No exchange of specified Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from 02-01-2017 (as per government instructions)’.

After the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised on November 8, 2016, the public was constantly assured that they could exchange their old notes in the banks till December 30 and with the RBI till March 31, 2017.

 However, on the first working day of 2017, people were in for a rude shock. Sahira, a maid from Saraipalya, did not know she had old currency till she opened her cooker and found Rs 1,500 that she had kept there when shifting to a new house. This was the case with most gathered at the RBI, who had recently discovered old currency in their possession.

Ramesh Kartikeyan (name changed) came from Kolar Gold Fields with Rs 14,000 in old currency and an affidavit to show that he needed the money exchanged for his sister’s medical treatment. “My wife used to keep some money every month in a box. We had forgotten about it but when we were shifting the house on New Year we found it,” he said. The savings amount to a month’s salary, said Kartikeyan who works as a security guard in Bengaluru.

Farid Ahamed and two of his neighbours travelled all the way from Channapatna in Ramanagaram district to exchange the old notes they had with them. “My relative was ill so my family shifted to their house to look after them. We had Rs 5,500 in old notes in our house but by the time we returned, the period for exchanging in commercial banks was over,” said Ahamed, a labourer.

 According to a release issued by the RBI on December 31, 2016, resident Indian citizens who were abroad between November 9, 2016, to December 30, 2016, and NRIs can submit the notes from January 2 to March 31, 2017, at RBI offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur.

However, a release from the RBI on November 8 when demonetisation was announced said that any person who is unable to exchange or deposit the specified notes in their bank accounts before December 30, 2016, shall be given an opportunity to do so at specified offices of the RBI or such other facility until a later date as may be specified by it. But, this communication did not specify the facility will be only for NRIs or those who would be out of India during the specified period.

An email sent to RBI, Mumbai by DH remained unanswered till the time of going to press. An RBI official in Bengaluru said that they are awaiting a new notification from Mumbai.
Even many bankers are surprised over the RBI’s decision to exclude Bengaluru from the list. “In the interest of residents of Bengaluru, which is home to many IT employees and NRIs, the city should have been on the list,” they said.


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