Demonetisation: Lack of clarity at Mumbai railway stations over old notes
Ticket checkers and counter operators have opposing instructions on the policy about accepting old notes, but no matter the rule, they are facing public wrath
Woman shows her old Rs 500 note that she hopes to use to get a ticket
The Railways can’t seem to make up its mind about its currency policy. So while you may well be able to get on a train by using the now defunct currency, pray that you don’t end up getting fined by a ticket checker with the same old notes. Why the discrepancy? Turns out that while cashiers and ticket counters are expected to keep accepting the old currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 till November 24, the ticket collectors and parcel office are not permitted to do so.
On being questioned about it, Mukul Jain, the Divisional Railway Manager, said, “We are only following orders. People who are inconvenienced should talk to the Central Railways themselves.”
The rail authorities say that originally, none of the departments were supposed to take the notes, but since the ticket counters don’t have a choice, they were permitted to keep accepting them.
“Till November 24, the working counters are going to take the old notes. Only the parcel office and ticket collectors are barred from taking these notes,” said one of the Divisional commercial managers. But even that is not being uniformly observed as some officers continue to take the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
One of the female ticket collectors at Khar station explained, “There is a bit of confusion around whether we are suppose to take the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 note or not. When there is a fine of say Rs 270, people usually give Rs 500, but it’s hard to find change. Our grievances are right now just going unanswered.”
Dilemma at the counters
However, whether accepted on not, spare a thought for the ticket counter operators who are not only being harassed, but threatened, by people. “There are fights everyday. There have been times in the last few days when people have taken our photos and put it on social media saying that we are being unreasonable and unfair to the common man. But where do we find the change? When we run out of change, we ask them to wait till we can get some change from others. We don’t have a choice, and to be honest, we are sick and tired of this,” said Nalini Kadam of the Grant Road counter.
Showing his bundle of collected Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Santosh Pandey, an administrative officer at the Khar station ticket counter muses, “I don’t know if taking the old notes is a good thing or bad, because even after accepting what people have, they are angry and throw tantrums. Now, I don’t know what people will start doing once we decline the notes after November 24.”
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