SRIKAKULAM: On November 25 last year, Jammu of Narasannapeta mandal of Srikakulam district was declared a cashless village. Dubbing it a success of the programme launched by the administration in collaboration with banks, the authorities had described it as a stepping stone to the goal of transforming Srikakulam district into a cashless economy. But, the things are back to square one as currency note is the king of the village now.
The village was adopted by Andhra Bank to promote digital modes of payment after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. The villagers got their bank accounts opened and were provided ATM and debit cards. As many as 14 e-PoS terminals were provided to the shops. But now, the terminals are lying in the shops unsued and the Rupay cards provided to the residents are locked up in the almirahs.
“One day, I ran out of cash and I approached the grocery shops with my debit card. But, none of them accepted it saying that the e-PoS terminals were not working. I had to return empty-handed. Finally, I travelled 3 km and withdrew cash from an ATM in Narasannapeta and bought the provisions,” says Reddy Rama Krishna, a resident of Jammu village while narrating his recent experience.
Golivi Rama Rao, another villager, was listening to the conversation from a distance. Asked whether he uses his debit card at the village shops, he responded with a smile. “The bank officials gave me a card a few months ago saying that I must use it at the shops. But, I never used it thus far. They had explained the villagers how to do the transactions, but I forgot. When I have cash in my pocket why I will go for a card transaction? I do not find it convenient,” says Golivi Rama Rao.
Not only this village, the banks in the district conducted massive awareness programmes on digital transactions post-demonetisation. Many banks adopted villages in all the 38 mandals in the district to make them model villages for cashless transactions. Andhra Bank had adopted Jammu, Bantupalli, Kancharam and Pedda Sreerampuram villages while SBI took charge of Penubarthi, Geradakhandi, Loddaputti, Devudala and Vangara.
Similarly, APGVB had adopted Kasipuram, Ungarada Metta and Unukuru villages. After a series of awareness programmes and the opening of bank accounts for each household and issuing of debit cards, Jammu village was declared 100 percent cashless village. E-PoS terminals were provided to shops at Jammu with a population of 1,583.
A survey conducted in the village by TNIE revealed that no cashless transaction is being done at any shops in the village except for the fair-price shop. The shop owners opted for digital modes of payment, especially through the e-PoS terminal in the initial days. But, now all the transactions are being done in cash. “In the initial days, the terminal developed technical snags. I used it as the customers did not have enough cash with them. I found some amount getting deducted every month from my account. The bank officials told me that they had started charging for the cashless transactions. So, I stopped using it. Why should I pay for no gain?,” asks Gembali Vasu.