Noida â€” on the 51st day of demonetisation!
Things would be back to normal after 50 days of demonetisation, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, had promised the nation. Fifty days are over and today (December 29) is the 51st day. City Spidey carried out a survey across Noida, speaking to people from all segments of the society. But the final picture that came out is a gloomy one. Things have not yet improved for either the businessman, the professional or the common man.
The bank and the common man
Serpentine queues outside banks and ATMs still continue to be the same as on day one of demonetisation. Both banks and ATMs continue to suffer from cash crunch, and so do the people. Yogesh Sharma, a resident of Sector 51, Noida, who holds a current as well as a savings account with a nationalised bank, says that while the weekly withdrawal limit for a savings bank account holder is Rs 24,000, cash-strapped banks are offering something between Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 to a person, citing reasons that they have to cater to the maximum number of their customers.
Another problem at hand is that banks are without the requisite amount of new currency and ATMs are high and dry. The manager of a bank, on condition of anonymity, says that bankers will not be able to wish their customers 'Happy New Year' in 2017. He says that in the first week of January, the salaried class will be facing a fresh set of problems in laying their hands on their salaries as banks are still cash-strapped.
Markets, not far behind
Noida district boasts of 200 market places where about two lakh shopkeepers conduct their businesses. Of these, an estimated 27,000 are registered with the Sales Tax Department. On an average, the sale from these shops has gone down by Rs 100 crore per day due to the cash crunch, and lack of awareness or comfort level with electronic payments among shopkeepers and customers. Small shopkeepers have already downed their shutters over acute shortage of cash and lack of business. Most of them say that due to poor sales, they prefer sitting at home and saving money, which would otherwise be spent on electricity and wages of servants or salesmen.
The manager of Nazeer, a Mughlai food chain in Sector 18 says that even after the passage of the 50-day deadline given by the Prime Minister, he is still witnessing a cut of 40 per cent in sales. Vijay Singh, the manager of Vaango, another food outlet, says that the store has now managed to recover only 15 per cent of its daily footfall after the 40 per cent loss.
Demonetisation has also affected the festive-season market in the city. Shopkeepers of gift and decorative item stores in Atta Market, Sector 18, say that despite being one of the peak festive months of the year, the new year buzz has failed to draw customers to their stores. Dipali Juneja, a store owner, says that due to shortage of cash, people are only fulfilling their necessities. "The festive season seems to have taken a back seat," she adds.
Another shopkeeper in the market says that he tried to use cashless systems, such as Paytm, but they could not replace the need for cash. He says that he tries to divide a payment between online transaction and cash payment so that he has some cash left to further invest in his shop.
"We somehow made it through Christmas but we do not have much hope for the New Year market. My investment might have to wait for another year if sales do not improve in the next two days," he adds.
Hospitals and clinics hit, private doctors’ practice sees a downslide
All small and big hospitals are bearing the brunt of demonetisation. The owner of a multi-speciality hospital in Noida tells City Spidey that business has gone down by almost 50 per cent since they stopped accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. He says that the number of people with credit and debit cards is less. Only those who have cards or whose employers are on the panel of the hospital are coming for treatment. He laments that he had to sack twenty of his employees in December as the hospital was not doing enough business to pay their salaries.
Dr. NK Rai, owner of Kanika Nursing Home, Sector 11, says that his establishment has witnessed a fall of 60 per cent in terms of number of patients. “I wonder where people are going now. Are they trying home remedies or going to government hospitals where patients are attended on a nominal fee of Rs 1. The haste and unpreparedness of the government in taking this step certainly needs an explanation,” he adds.
Industries worst hit
Production in units has gone down by almost 60 per cent. Cash crunch has forced workers to put the condition of no pay-no work as owners of production units are finding it tough to pay them on a regular basis. It is estimated that about 40 per cent of the daily labourers in the city have already left for their villages.
While there are eight lakh labourers registered with the labour department, there are seven lakh who are still to be registered, taking the total figure to almost 15 lakh. Of the registered lot, only four lakh workers have bank accounts till date. The rest are facing the heat of cash crunch when it comes to payment of daily wage. The 15,000 industrial units in the city have already suffered an estimated loss of Rs 2,000 crores in the last 50 days.
One can only take solace in thinking that after all, the PM's words could have been another political promise or a 'jumlaa.'