KOLKATA: Shortage of Rs 100 notes and new Rs 500 notes has forced many residents near the Indo-Bhutan border in West Bengal to switch over to Bhutanese currency Ngultrum, which is equal in value to the Rupee.
Though illegal to be circulated on Indian soil, the Ngultrum is nevertheless widely used in transactions in the Indo-Bhutan border areas. Earlier, it was accepted as far as Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar towns, over 100 km from the border. However, stricter measures by the Government of India since 2012 have limited use of Ngultrum to the border areas. On the other hand, Indian Rupee is accepted as far as Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.
The sudden demonetisation move has forced the traders and common public alike in border towns such as Jaigaon and Nagrakata in Alipurduar district to completely switch over to the Bhutanese currency.
“Many of the traders have transferred their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to Phuentsholing on the other side of the border in lieu of Bhutanese currency,” Dipankar Dutta, a trader in the last Indian town Jaigaon told New Indian Express.
The Bhutanese currency is also being used in greater numbers in other border towns such as Nagrakata. “We have exchanged our Rs 500 notes with Nu 500 notes, which are being accepted in the border areas,” Anupam Sarkar, a resident of Nagrakata told New Indian Express.
"Earlier, the traders gave a mix of Rupees and Ngultrum as change. Nowadays, only Ngultrum is given, which shows the extent of the Bhutanese currency," he added.
Meanwhile, police have denied the organised large-scale exchange of Rupees and Ngultrum through the Indo-Bhutan border.
“We have not received any information of large-scale movement of Rupees and Ngultrum through the border. Action will be initiated if we receive such information,” Jaigaon Police Station Office-in-charge Biraj Mukherjee said.