• LPG woes: Cash crunch threatens to turn off stoves

    The demonetisation effect has entered the family kitchen now as the deadline for paying the scrapped notes for LPG cylinders expired on December 15 and there is ashortage of smaller currenciesin the system. Worse still, the LPG dealers are unlikely to get swipe machines in the near future because there is a shortage of them in the market due to the high demand. The market is flooded with Rs 2,000 notes, thanks to the ATMs full of them. Banks are also giving at least 80 percent of cash in these notes.

    “The loose change is gone from the market as it is not being replenished by the banks. As there was a hoarding of higher denomination notes, the lower denomination notes are in demand now. Given the situation, we are unable to book the refill cylinder of LPG,” Sushma Jadhav, a teacher in a private school, residing in Pathardi area, said. Similar is the case with Kailas Adhav of Panchavati who had booked a refill cylinder on December 13 and had to send the delivery boy back after he said he had no change. “He came to our house and on December 16 with the cylinder, but my wife had to send him back because she had Rs 2,000 notes and and no change. She tried to get change from a private shop that had a PoS machine, but in vain,” he said.

    The shortage of change is creating problems for people. “We have change but that is largely being used for important needs like grocery and vegetables. But the LPG dealers can bring the swipe machines,” Sanjay Narkhede, a shopkeeper said. The situation is still bad in rural areas where banks do not have enough branches to dispense cash to farmers. “We have to travel 15 km for an ATM, forget any bank branch. We are not tech savvy and cannot use cards or net banking. How will we buy refills? Till December 15, the Rs 500 notes were allowed, but now that is not the situation. Besides, the internet connection is not friendly,” Abhijeet Kadam, a residnet of a village in Niphad, said.

    The LPG distributors have their own story to tell. “Some people are paying exact change, but the number those rejecting delivery of cylinders has shot up. The deliveries are being rejected mainly because people do not have cash these days. Most delivery men bring back at least one cylinder per day,” said a distributor. A senior official of a petroleum company said people using smart phones know that they can pay online at the time of booking, but those who not tech savvy are unable to do that. “Requests for swipe machines have been made by distributors and are waiting for the receipt of the same,” the officer said.

    “It is a major headache to buy a POS machine on rent. The online transactions have grown from 0.5 percent to about 2 percent after demonetization, but are not enough for a distributor to bear the charges of the POS machine. Besides, distributors will have to give one POS to every delivery person, which means at least about five machines per distributor. Who will bear the rents is a major question,” said a distributor. “The USSD code used for money transaction without internet connection is a good option but the problem is that people are not familiar with it. Even we are not aware of it at this point of time. The petroleum companies should conduct some workshops and display boards to create awareness among people,” another dealer from Nashik Road said.
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