Lost in Demonetisation : From the corners of Nagaland - I

Moa Jamir
Dimapur | November 18  

Despite long queues in the banks and ATMs, people in the urban areas of Nagaland have been able to handle the setbacks and inconveniences created by the demonetization move. But the same cannot be said for people in the rural and far flung areas.  

Limited banking institutions coupled with lower financial inclusion and an informal economy is creating a problem of large proportion in the interior areas.  

Cash crunch is more acute in upper Konyak area, a resident of Aboi Town told The Morung Express. “There is only single bank in the upper region of Konyak district which has around 70-80 villages. At least half of the Konyak population is suffering,” the Aboi resident pointed out.  

Alang Sakang Wanghim, Assistant General Secretary of Aboi Area Students’ Union (AASU) while describing the suffering faced by the demonetization move said during the past week, there were around 6-7 death in the area but the families had no money even to spend for funerals.  

Villagers from the region are compelled to walk on foot all the way to Aboi Town with their Rs. 1000 or 500 notes early in the morning in order to reach the bank on time. The problem does not stop there. The most common problem faced by the villagers is to fill up the forms to exchange their money without any identify card or bank account. 

“This step is only hurting the innocent poor,” Wanghim said.  

Demonetisation has also turned the villages in the interior areas into islands, rendering the villagers hapless to even make a trip to the nearest sub-divisions to buy their daily needs.  

Students are also at the receiving end. With educational institutions refusing to accept the devalued currencies, a number of students are faced with the challenge of even filling up the forms for their final exam for which they need to pay an amount.  

Seeing the problem face by the rural population, the AASU said it has been assisting the illiterate and handicap. While the new Rs 2000 notes reached Aboi on Friday, Wanghim said they are now faced with a bigger problem- getting smaller change out of the intimidating high value currency.  

In Tizit, one Khamhi Konyak said many organisations whose annual reports are being prepared are also facing problems. “There are difficulties in showing the details of finance report of various departments due to current situation because they could not do current updates of their passbook,” Khamhi stated.  

The severe problems faced by the villagers under Tobu subdivision as a result of the recent demonetization move by the Government was one of the pertinent issues discussed at the 8th annual conference of the Tobu Area GB Association.  

A press note from the Association informed that most of the villagers do not have a bank account and the nearest bank at Mon HQ is more than 150 km away. 

“So it is impossible for the villagers to exchange their hard earned cash. Therefore, we are requesting the Government to arrange an alternative solution for our sub division,” President of Tobu Area GB Association stated.  

Elsewhere in Tuensang, the lone SBI ATM is crowded the whole day with people making a mad rush to withdraw money. Those without a bank account or ATM crowd the two SBI bank in the town.  

“How can a lone ATM serve the whole town and the surrounding areas?” an understandably worried Topuchungchuba Chang, a Tuensang citizen and Assistant General Secretary of Eastern Nagaland Students’ Federation questioned. The citizen said an indication for a new ATM was put up near the District Government Hospital since 2015, but it is yet to materialize. 

The other at Assam Rifle camp is not easily accessible to common people.  

In Pungro area under Kiphire district, a citizen said things have settled down after the initial rush but a number of problems persist- “With shortage of lower denomination currency notes, when you go to a shop, if you are not buying goods for the whole amount, the retailer asks us to keep the remaining amount for another day.”