KOLKATA: Shortage of Rs 100 and new Rs 500 notes has forced many residents near the India-Bhutan border in Bengal to switch to Bhutanese currency Ngultrum, which is equal in value to the Rupee. Illegal in India, the Ngultrum is nevertheless widely used in transactions in the 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 since 2012 have limited the use of Ngultrum to the border areas.
On the other hand, the Rupee is accepted as far as Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.
The sudden demonetisation move has forced the traders and the public alike in border towns such as Jaigaon and Nagrakata in Alipurduar to completely switch 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 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 accepted in the border areas,” said Anupam Sarkar, a resident.
Meanwhile, police denied organised large scale exchange of Rupees and Ngultrum through the border.