Even as the Reserve Bank of India and the government have said that ₹2,000 denomination banknotes continue as legal tender, a large number of kirana shops, retail outlets, petrol stations, and transport companies are not accepting the note, leaving thousands of customers in many parts of the country with no option other than taking their currency to a bank.

Take the case of Kailas Mandal, a blue collared worker in Matunga area of Mumbai who could not buy medicine for his daughter after a local pharmacy refused to take his ₹2,000 note. “That’s the only cash I have with me. Now, I’ll have to wait till tomorrow to get the note exchanged at a bank,” he said.

Slightly worried

A similar story unfolded in Delhi too where neighbourhood kirana and departmental stores are no longer accepting ₹2,000 notes.

Satish Wadhwani, who runs a small departmental store in Masudpur near Vasant Kunj in South Delhi, said: “We have started refusing to take ₹2,000 notes. Exceptions are made for old customers. But overall, we are apprehensive about accepting these notes now.”

About 2,700 km away in Tirunelveli, the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation issued a circular ordering the bus conductors not to accept ₹2,000 notes from passengers. The Managing Director of the Corporation also demanded that conductors should not exchange their collection (coins & notes of low monetary value) with outsiders.

In Kerala, the Guruvayur Temple Administration, which manages one of South India’s well-known Srikrishna Temple, is concerned over the possibility of the notes landing in the ‘hundis’ in the temple after the currency loses legal tender status. VK Vijayan, Chairman of Guruvayur Devaswom Board, told businessline that the temple administration had faced such a situation after the currency ban in 2016.

Retail liquor outlets of Kerala’s State Beverages Corporation have stopped accepting the notes from customers. Yogesh Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, told businessline that “we have asked outlets to avoid taking ₹2,000 notes following the sudden surge in transactions on Saturday”.

In Hyderabad, corporate hospitals have stopped accepting ₹2,000 notes for the same reason. A senior official of a major corporate hospital chain said: “From Saturday, we have noticed a significant increase in payments in ₹2,000 notes. Most of them are partly soiled or old. As there are other options like exchanging them in banks or depositing in bank accounts, we are being extra cautious.”

The horrifying memories of being straddled with a pile of ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes in the days following demonetisation seem to be acting as a deterrent for many shopkeepers. Pratap Majumdar, who runs a kirana shop in South Kolkata, says there has been an increase in the number of customers walking into his shop with ₹2,000 notes for buying goods worth ₹300-500.

“Earlier, these customers would insist on online payments; now, they want me to accept the ₹2,000 notes for such low-ticket purchases. If every customer starts doing this, I will be piled up with a number of notes and it is difficult for me to go to the bank to deposit it.”

10% commission

In Mumbai, grocery stores are charging a 10 per cent commission while the jewellers are selling gold at premium prices to customers who are presenting ₹2,000 notes.

However, the extent of the impact wasn’t widespread. For example, business at Jamalpur vegetable APMC market in Ahmedabad was almost unhampered. “Initially, there was some resistance to accept the ₹2,000 note. But it has been made clear that this note continues to be legal currency,” said Ahmed Patel, a trade representative.

In Bengaluru, the impact was minimal as most of the consumers do not use cash on a day-to-day basis as they have switched to digital platforms.