Despite possessing identification cards, exchanging money has proved difficult for some migrant workers in Bengaluru.

Demonetisation Struggling for cash migrant workers pay a heavy price for valid currency
news Demonetisation Friday, November 11, 2016 - 18:28

By Ananya Barua & Arundhati Sarkar

“Pareshani toh bohot barh gaya nah. Paisa hai jeb me, par koi leta nei (Problems have in fact increased because of this. Money is only lying in the pocket. No one is accepting it),” laments Rakesh Kumar Sahani, as he holds on to his 500 rupees note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement on November 8 making 500 and 1000 rupee notes illegal overnight, has left many migrant workers like Rakesh, struggling the last few days.

Having left his home in Bihar’s Samastipur district to work as a construction labourer in Bengaluru, Rakesh narrates, “No one will give change. If we need change, we will have to buy things worth Rs 500. I couldn’t even buy food, so I spent Rs 500 on alcohol and all.”

Vinod Sahani, another migrant worker recounts that he was forced out of a bus on Wednesday because his colleague did not have smaller denomination notes. “Autowallahs won’t take us, and buses just forced us out.” With no one willing to take their banned note, Sahani and his colleague had no option but to walk 7 kilometres to UB City from Dairy Circle.

On Thursday, Vinod finally managed to exchange his note at a shop near Wilson Garden market. But he paid a heavy price. “We had to spend a lot because of this. I wouldn’t get change otherwise. I went to Wilson garden market and had to buy clothes and shoes to get change for 500 rupees.”

When banks reopened on Thursday, Vinod along with his fellow workers lined up to exchange their currency at 5:30pm. Despite possessing identification cards, Vinod claims he and his colleagues were denied service. “There was a man inside giving money to everyone. But the security told us there is no one inside and no money left,” he alleges.

 But with shortage of cash at ATMs across Bengaluru, the struggle for these migrant workers looks to continue. 

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