HOW BHARAT COPES: It's a waiting game
GANGAPALEM (Andhra): A Satyanarayana’s daughter is due for delivery today, November 20. He had borrowed Rs 1 lakh from LIC and deposited it in his bank. He hoped to pay for the delivery with that money but given the restrictions on withdrawal of money from banks, his hands are tied.
"This is strange. I have money in the bank, but can’t withdraw it. My wife and son-in-law are in the hospital in Vinukonda. And I am here trying to get some hand loans from my friends and relatives. The situation is urgent.”
The small-time trader in Gangapalem village in Yerragondapalem mandal in Prakasam district of AP feels trapped. He collects agriculture produce from farmers in the village and sells it to traders in the market for a commission. With 500 and 1000 notes scrapped, he is not even able to monetize the commissions he is owed.
“I made some deals a couple of days ago but I haven’t been paid yet. Traders are willing to pay me only in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, which the farmers are not willing to accept. The farmers have agreed to wait and the traders are promising to pay in a week’s time. I’m desperate,” he says.
Gangapalem is located 6 km from Yerragondapalem, a mandal HQ. It has no motorable road and is dependent on a couple of APSRTC buses and a couple of autorickshaws. Motorcycles can be borrowed from fellow villagers but filling petrol has become expensive with bunks refusing to sell return change.
There are two marriages scheduled in the village next week but there is no bustle in both houses, painted afresh but near empty. The men have gone to Yerragondapalem to stand in the queues at the banks there.
Everyone is counting losses in rural Andhra Pradesh. In Narsapalem village, also in Yerragondapalem manda, M Chinnakka, a labour contractor who supplies farmhands to sugarcane farmers in Tamil Nadu, has had to call off her deals.
“I do not have liquid cash in hand to hire a truck to transport workers from here. I am worried that if there is any more delay my clients will look for alternatives. I accepted an advance payment of Rs 5 lakh from the farmers and distributed the money among the workers. I just have to deliver the workers,” she said.
Villagers from Yerragondapalem head out for six months every year to work on farms elsewhere. But that has come to a stop now. “Farmers don’t have cash to pay. They are offering us big notes, which we are refusing,” said J Mariyamma, a woman farm worker.
It’s an oddity of demonetization that while workers complain they have no work, farmers say they have a problem findng workers. “Labourers are prepared to sit idle rather than accept the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from us,” said A Venkatanarayana, a farmer, said.
Farmers in this part of Andhra Pradesh are worried that with harvest season coming up next month, demonetization has turned the markets upside down. “We have no money in hand and our crop cannot be sold without cash in the market. How long can this go on,” said one farmer.
For people like P Venkatesu, a 45-year-old goat herder, lack of change is a bitter pill to swallow. “I went to a wine shop and tried to get change for
An old Rs. 500 note. The shop keeper would have none of it even after I promised to buy a quarter bottle of whiskey.”