After the currency ban, the visitors of the India International Trade Fair have experienced a strange dilemma where the banned currency notes are immediately accepted in the ticket counter and outrightly rejected by sellers in Pragati Maidan.
If you plan to make purchases in the ongoing trade fair by debit or credit card, you may have to stop at the ticket counter itself, because it has no machine to swipe your cards.
Despite the Centre’s insistence to use electronic payment systems at the advent of new currency policy, Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), the organiser of the mega event, has yet to recalibrate its ticket counter. Instead, the counter is accepting old currency notes.
If a person repeatedly requests the ticket counter to pay by using plastic money, stating Centre’s order, he will be taken to the Metro Station on the first floor of the ticket counter and the amount to be paid for the entry tickets will be transferred to a bank account by a swipe machine. But he will not get the ticket right after that. Rather, he will be handed over the amount swiped out of the account in cash, most likely in old currency notes. He, in turn, will have to buy tickets with the cash from the counter.
Soon after he steps into the fair, he is likely to face a situation that is the extreme opposite of what he met at the ticket counter. Most of the traders there do not accept the old currency notes.
This is a strange dilemma that not only hit the buyers, but also the sellers badly. In fact, the entire trade fair has been hit by the note ban imposed by the government.
Arpan Sharma, who was seen loitering from one stall to another attempting to make purchases, told Firstpost, "Very few traders are accepting old currency notes. I do not have the new ones. On the other hand many traders do not have swiping machines either for online payment."
Zaheed, an Afghan tourist, says that he has been hurt most by the ban. The Indian currency he had before the ban became invalid. On the other hand, there are long ques outside banks. So he had to sell his dollars at very low price to make purchases.
"What can we do. The government has told us that rupee notes of 500 and 1,000 denomination are banned. How can we accept it," asks Nabal Puri Goswami, a trader who has come all the way from Bikaner to sell his khadi products.
He also says that because of the currency ban, his sales have hit rock bottom. Goswami, who has been participating in the trade fair for the last seven years, says that earlier he used to sell khadi clothes worth Rs 70,000 to 80,000 every day in the trade fair. But this time around he has sold clothes for Rs 11,000 in the last four days.
Jitendra Kumar, who is running a restaurant in the trade fair, says that he used to make Rs 35,000 every day in the previous years. But this time it is only Rs 7,000 per day. He also expected that the government will make currency more available to make purchase easier in the trade fair.
J Gunasekaran, a top official of the ITPO says that due to currency ban, lesser footfall has been witnessed this time. "No comparison can be made in terms of footfalls between the trade fairs held in earlier years and that held this time," he said. "This time you can see there is a crisis."
He further said that the situation is gradually improving and people have began stepping in bigger numbers than in the first three days
He also said that the ITPO has established 15 ATMs in the fair and requested the banks to provide the traders with swiping machines. But long queues outside ATMs has made purchase very difficult for the visitors and many traders in the fair still do not have swiping machines.