Straight Out of Lucknow: Rich, well-connected politician bans cash because poor people use it


LUCKNOW: The decision to scrap high-value currency has left the small and marginal farmers, and traders shattered. This is the time when Kharif crops, mainky paddy, is harvested and sold. But due to the demonetisation move, the payment after sale has become a big issue. Besides, farmers are not able to purchase seeds and fertilizers for coming rabi crops. At social level also, rural people are feeling ‘cheated’ as it has become difficult for their to organise expenses for wedding. Anticipating these troubles, chief minister Alkhilesh Yadav has demanded special camps of banks in rural areas.

Since a majority of rural areas of the state does not have proper penetration of banks, mos of small and marginal farmers still don’t have a functional bank account and deal in cash. “After every main crop, whether it is kharif or rabi, the growers sell their yields to the traders as the government system is crippled with red tape and is very slow. Traders come to farms or the villages and purchase their yield and give them money immediately while in the government system they have to make umpteen rounds of offices to get their payment. With this cash, farmers and rural people buy seeds, equipment and fertilizers for the next crop and also use this money for the marriage of their siblings. Since the high currency denominations have been banned , majority of farmers are feeling cheated,” says Mukhesh Gautam, former director of agriculture and now running an NGO.

Small and marginal farmers depend on the private traders to sell of their produce as the government’s centres to purchase the produce on the MSP hardly work. “Even if they are open and functional, the government staff harass the farmers and force them to return to private market,” says a senior officer of the agriculture department.

Majority of farmers sell their produce to the private traders and get money in cash as they don’t have any bank account and secondly they need cash in their hands for next crop. “Hum toh bhikhari ho gaye hai. Kya karein koi paisa le nahi raha hai. Hum to barbad ho jayenge, agar koi hal nahi nikla tog,” (Nobody is taking the money we have. We wil be ruined if there is no immediate solution),” lamented Badkay of Kalukheda in Unnao.

A bank manager in Unnao told TOI that such farmers who have sold their yield and have no bank accounts are going to face a very difficult time. Not only this, those with bank accounts, will also get difficulty as the banks have set a limit of Rs 4,000 for exchange. Fertilizer outlets have already downed their shutters and are not taking denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. This is our peak season to sell fertilizer for the rabi crop, but what can we do when the government has declared the high currency invalid,” say Naresh Dixit who runs a fertilizer outlet in Unnao.

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