A group of residents in Dhasai show off their debit cards. PIC/NIMESH DAVE
DHASAI: Starting December 1, residents of Dhasai, a village 140 kms from Mumbai in Murbad, Thane district, will ditch cash and conduct all financial transactions on 40 card-swiping machines that are set to arrive this week. Right from the chicken shop owner to the barber, farmers and the local physician, everyone will use only plastic money. A jibe by a Rajya Sabha member about farmers unable to wield plastic money, and losses from demonetisation proved inspiration.
Stung by an offensive remark by a Rajya Sabha MP recently over demonetisation, an entire village in Maharashtra has decided to go cashless – the first in the country. Dhasai, a village in Murbad, Thane district, is home to a population of 10,000. Starting December 1, all residents will ditch cash and carry out transactions on 40 card-swiping machines that will arrive. Right from the chicken shop owner to the barber to farmers and the local physician, everyone will operate using only plastic money. Thanks to the Jan Dhan Yojana, almost all villagers already have the Rupay ATM card.
Set the ball rolling
All 10,000 of Dhasai residents will now make financial transactions using cards. PICS/NIMESH DAVE
Ranjeet Savarkar, president of the Savarkar Smarak organisation, an NGO that spearheaded the historic move, said, “I heard someone in the Rajya Sabha assembly say, ‘would a farmer carry a card in his dhoti?’ I was upset by the derogatory mark and decided to make the village cashless. We made this possible with the help of Bank of Baroda.”
Savarkar argues that it’s a myth that traders don’t want to go cashless. “The economy is already being run through cheques. I just filled the gap. The bank was more than happy to provide the machines for free. The move will not just help them widen their customer base, but also relieve them of the pressure of handing out cash,” he added.
Social worker, Kailash Gholab, who managed and organised camps that spread awareness about plastic money and managed to get residents to the banks, said, “I was inspired as it would put the village on the world map, and become an inspiration for others.”
Every day, R20 lakh worth of cash transactions are conducted in the village. There are more than 70 villages around Dhasai with 400 traders. They are willing to adopt this system.”
Bank of Baroda's General Manager and Zonal Head (Mumbai-Thane-Raigad Palghar), Navtej Singh, said, “The idea was in our head, but we knew that unless the public was forced, they would not go cashless. We are more than happy to waive of machine charges since we are keen to reach out to more farmers, tribals and the poor. This is the right time for the step. If we can pull it off now with the support of villagers, we can replicate the model anywhere in the country.”
The banks will charge 0.75% transaction charge on less than R2,000 rupees and 1% for anything higher. But, this charge will be levied only on traders. For instance, if you are paying R100, the trader will receive R99.25. Explaining how the model will reach the grassroot, DGM of Bank of Baroda, said. “Every farmer, through the Jan Dhan Yojana, now has the Rupay ATM card. Even the poorest of the poor is using this facility. For those who are not, we are setting up camps to ensure there is no untapped person left in the village.”
Jan Dhan Yojana
The Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana was floated in August 2014 to allow everyone access to savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance and pension. Everyone in the scheme was provided with an ATM card. As of November 23, the total deposits in 25.68 crore Jan Dhan accounts stood at R72,834.72 crore.
Where is that Rajya Sabha member now?
Ramesh Vekhande, who supplies fertilisers and seeds to more than 200 farmers, said, “Farmers are in dire need of a system that ups business. Around 80% farmers have cards so it won’t be long when 100% of the farmers are included.”