Kolkata, 09 November: THE overnight demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have led to severe inconvenience to people in Bengal, especially those whose relatives are admitted to hospitals and those who are travelling by long distance trains.
Foreign tourists visiting West Bengal are also bearing the burnt as they have neither money nor means to meet basic needs like food.
Medical tourists from Bangladesh who came for treatment at Tata Medical Centre at Rajarhat, Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences at Mukundapur on EM Bypass, and other speciality hospitals in the city are running helter-skelter as the private hospital authorities have put up notices saying that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will not accepted for payments towards medical expenses.
“We hardly have an alternative as because we got our Bangladeshi currencies exchanged into Indian rupees and mostly got them in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000,” said Mohasin Ali from Bangladesh. “We also do not know what will happen to the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that we have as we do not have bank accounts in Bengal.”
A group of such helpless tourists from Bangladesh held a demonstration at Marquis Street today morning. Similar demonstration was held at Sudder Street in central Kolkata that is popular with foreigners for cheap accommodation and food.
Similarly, tourists from Bengal who are now in other states have been left in the lurch. Sudeshna Paul of Kolkata who went to Bangalore with parents for holidays poured out anger on Facebook saying that she has only Rs 300 smaller denomination notes and with that the three of them have to buy food for 36 hours in the return train.
“I have debit card but pantry car in trains do not accept card payment,” she has written.
Petrol pumps in different parts of Bengal are witnessing heated exchanges between customers and staff as the latter is failing to meet the huge demand for change against the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes being tendered by customers. A petrol pump at Rampurhat in Birbhum even witnessed fight over this today.
The similar situation is prevailing at railway stations and reservation counters at Howrah, Sealdah, New Jalpaiguri and elsewhere in the state where the railway staff are failing to deal with the huge surge in demand for notes below the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
The hardships of the people have found expression in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s tweets.
“Please save people from this disaster. Roads are closed, markets shut, patients not being admitted to private hospitals, millions affected. Chaos everywhere. This is like an all-India unannounced strike. Those who hoard large amounts of black money will be protected,” Banerjee tweeted today afternoon.
“The poorest of the poor and middle class are crying. I once more appeal to the Govt to withdraw this hasty decision. First do a plan of action and only then do proper implementation. This is a complete disaster,” her tweets read further.