GUWAHATI: With the unavailability of Indian valid currency notes in adequate numbers, Bhutanese currency is being reportedly used as legal tender in parts of Assam bordering the Himalayan country.
Local television reports showed areas near to the Bhutan border in Kokrajhar district of the state where Bhutanese currency is being used for transaction.
While Bhutan currency is used in normal times also, its use is very limited and mostly confined for dealings across the border. But local people told television channels that they are now being compelled to use Bhutanese currency, exchanged against de-valued Indian high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.
An Indian note of Rs 500 is exchanged for Rs 400 worth of Bhutanese currency, while a Bhutanese Rs 500 note is held for its face value. The situation was the reverse prior to the demonetization move, when Indian Rs 500 fetched as much and the Bhutanese Rs 500 was taken for value of Rs 400.
Local people while speaking to newsmen said the nearest banks and ATMs are located 50-60 km away through bad roads and there is no surety of getting notes exchanged even if one visits the branches and stands in long queues. ” We are being forced to use Bhutanese currency in these parts. If the government could send mobile money vending machines, it would help us immensely,” the people pleaded before the television cameras.
Meanwhile, there was hardly any respite for the common man as serpentine queues in front of banks and ATMs continued throughout the state. The bank authorities said the situation is expected to improve as more ATMs are being recalibrated to dispense smaller denomination notes and new Rs 500 notes are also arriving.
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