SALBONI (WEST MEDINIPUR): Villages in the vicinity of Salboni, one of the four RBI mints, have harrowing tales to narrate in the wake of demonetisation. Locals have to reserve their spots by keeping name engraved bricks in front of banks and ATMs from as early as 4am.
Ajit Mahato stares blankly at the railway tracks coming from Salboni station. “Every day one train full of cash goes through these tracks but they won’t let me withdraw my money from my bank account!,” said
Mahato, a father troubled by the fixed weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000. His daughter's wedding is three days away and he is further left hassled, thanks to the complicated formalities that are involved with withdrawing Rs 2.5 lakh for weddings.
The irony is, his village Lengtisol is right next to one of the four mints of the country where the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes are being printed. Despite this, he can’t withdraw his own money.
Even if cash is being printed in their backyard, the villagers in the neighbouring Salboni Mint in Paschim Medinipur face severe crunch of money. With fewer banks and ATMs in their vicinity, and serpentine queues, the locals have to reserve their spots with a brick engraved with their names and queue them up at
banks from as early as 4 am.
Most of the villages in the vicinity of the mint feel they have not got any additional benefits of demonetisation. On the contrary, they are left disadvantaged. “We see trainloads of cash being taken
to Kolkata where Rs 500 notes are available at ATMs now, but there is no adequate cash in the banks in our area,” said Wajed Choudhury, whose house is next to one of the few branches of nationalised banks in Sayedpur, 7 km from the mint.
“On the western end of the mint, for over 20 km, there are no banks or ATMs,” said Bablu Mondal, a resident of Katalkuli village.
Salboni Mint, along with three other Reserve Bank of India mints in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Noida are working overtime to produce more Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes.
“Earlier, one ‘cash train’ used to leave the mint every week. Now every day one train passes by,” said Raju Hansda of Burruchatti village, who says the sight of ‘cash trains’, or containers carrying freshly minted currency notes depresses him. “It’s like living in a fertile land and still starving,” he said.