Putting up a brave face amid sustained opposition onslaught and the looming threat of judicial intervention — the Left parties on Wednesday vowed to add heft to the litigation on demonetisation by filing a joint petition in the Supreme Court — the government on Wednesday announced more steps to help farmers to meet their cash needs during the ongoing rabi (winter) sowing season. Prodded by it, many banks announced waiver of charges on online as well as debit card transactions.
In a setback to the government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay proceedings on the scrapping of R500 and R1,000 notes pending in various high courts.
A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur said: “There are various issues. People may get immediate relief from the high courts.”
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to stop accepting scrapped notes for small saving schemes.
Following RBI directive to banks and other agencies to meet the crop loan requirements of about R35,000 crore during the rabi sowing season, Nabard has made available R21,000 crore to district central cooperative banks, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said. Sowing has been hit as farmers in many key states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh could not purchase seeds and fertilisers. The government also directed companies to sell fertilisers to farmers on a credit basis in places if there are no banking services. “Public sector banks, some of the private banks and some of the service providers have agreed to waive the service charges on the use of debit cards up to December 31, 2016,” Das said.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hit the streets of Delhi again demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ouster as “the country was not safe in his hands”. Union minister Venkaiah Naidu firmly ruled out revoking the exercise, saying rolling back was something “not in Modi’s blood”.
In a move aimed at turning the tables on opposition parties on demonetisation, Modi tweeted that more than 90% of over 5 lakh respondents on a survey on the NM app supported his drive against black money and decision to ban R500 and R 1,000 notes.
Listing out measures taken by the government to ease the common man’s pain due to insufficient cash, Das said the railways has already waived service charges on online booking of tickets and telecom operators have agreed to make mobile banking services in feature phones free of cost till December 31. The road transport ministry has asked automobile manufacturers to install digital RFID tag on all new vehicles to enable cashless payment at toll plazas and check posts.