Manipur post-demonetisation: Life thrown out of gear

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Imphal, Dec 8 (IANS) Even 30 days after demonetisation of high-value bank notes, life in Manipur remains at a standstill as people continue to struggle to make ends meet following the acute cash crunch.

Fifty-year-old N. Sanahanbi, a green grocer in the famed women’s market here, who is trying to run her kitchen and educating her children at the same time, told IANS that, since November 8, she has not been able to sell anything simply because customers have no low denomination notes and she does not have change for the Rs 2,000 note that some of them bring.

Similar is the story with small variations for thousands of women vendors in Manipur where all markets are exclusively run by women.

Ibemhal’s husband died some days ago and, as per his last wishes, she had planned the last ceremonies at Vrindavan. She has been queuing up at the bank to withdraw the amount but most of the days she returns home empty-handed. In a conversation with IANS, she wondered how she can perform her husband’s last religious rites.

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Satyabati, a young mother, is unable to withdraw money to pay monthly and examination fees for her three children and also cash for family expenses.

Banks have been issuing tokens for entering the premises. Satyabati said: “We suspect that there is connivance even in the distribution of tokens. Although we come early in the morning, we are always informed that all tokens have already been distributed.”

A large number of account holders, including elderly women, complain about absence of basic facilities like toilet and drinking water at the banks and ATM booths.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said: “All sections appreciate the attempts to unearth blackmoney at home and abroad. But what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done is highly objectionable since people are suffering.”

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A 70-year-old pensioner died while standing in the queue to withdraw money on December 5. Most of the ATMs are cash-strapped and banks restrict the number of account holders who are allowed inside the premises for transactions.

Legalised border trade has been brought to a grinding halt.

“All construction works in the state and the national projects have halted as there is no building material. Private house construction cannot be undertaken since one bag of cement is sold at Rs 900 in the blackmarket,” said a PWD official.

Unconfirmed reports here suggest that the new Rs 500 and other low denomination notes have been made over to certain persons who are exchanging these with the scrapped notes at 20 per cent commission. Officials refused to comment on media reports in this connection.

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