Local television reports showed areas near the Bhutan border in Kokrajhar district where Bhutanese currency is being used for transaction.
While Bhutan currency is used in normal times too, 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 ₹500 and ₹1000.
An Indian note of ₹500 is exchanged for ₹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 demonetisation move, when Indian Rs 500 fetched as much and the Bhutanese ₹500 was taken for value of ₹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 ₹500 notes are also arriving.