Petrol pumps are having to bear the brunt of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to withdraw Rs 2,000 banknotes from circulation with customers queuing up with the high-value currency notes from Friday late to buy fuel worth as little as Rs 100 or Rs 200. This has forced petrol pumps to put up notices that they will not be able to tender change for Rs 2,000 due to the unavailability of notes of smaller denominations.
At least six dealers in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra said that they are witnessing a sudden surge in cash transactions, on condition of anonymity. Several outlets across Uttar Pradesh were seen putting up notices that Rs 2,000 notes will be accepted only on purchase of fuel worth Rs 1,000 or more, reported HT.
Elsewhere, dealers in Delhi are facing similar problems. A dealer was quoted by HT as saying, “Being in the capital, we cannot put up such notices. As ₹2,000 notes are legal tender, we cannot refuse them. But we are also short of smaller notes. We are consider requesting customers to take change through UPI, BHIM and Paytm.”
Another petrol pump owner said, “Earlier, ₹2,000 notes used to be 1-2% of our total daily sales. Now this has jumped to 80%. We are not banks, and our cash-in-hand is limited, depending what we get in everyday sales. It is a practical issue that arose due to the RBI’s decision to withdraw the ₹2,000 currency. It seems that people are not adequately aware that they have ample of time to exchange them in banks.”
It may be noted that the Rs 2,000 banknotes will remain legal tender but RBI is withdrawing it from circulation. In a notification issued on May 19, RBI advised people to exchange or deposit the notes by September 30. It also restricted people wishing to change the notes for smaller denominations to Rs 20,000 per transaction. After following KYC norms, there is no restriction on depositing the notes in higher amounts in bank accounts.
Another dealer said that RBI should have prepared mechanisms to exchange Rs 2,000 banknotes before announcing a decision like that. He said that the announcement should have been accompanied by advertisements and publicity campaigns to reassure the common people.
The dealer was quoted as saying, “Once bitten twice shy. Even though general people don’t have many ₹2,000 notes and they have time till September 30 to get them exchanged in their banks, they don’t want to take any chance, thanks to the nightmarish experience of demonetisation of November 2016.”
A Mumbai-based professional, on the condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying, “After heated arguments, I had to use my credit card to pay the fuel bill.” He said that customers in Delhi could pay their fuel bills through Rs 2,000 notes, vehicle owners in other cities and remote areas are facing problems.
Meanwhile, a Chandigarh-based businessman said, “Petrol pumps are accepting ₹2,000 notes provided you fill fuel for the entire sum, as they don’t have small notes to return the balance.”