A Congress MP today highlighted in the Lok Sabha the hardships being faced by the people in exchanging the scrapped currency notes, saying only a few RBI offices have the facility and the government should intervene. K V Thomas said there are serpentine queues outside RBI offices as the deadline for exchanging the notes is approaching and many people return home empty handed. "The government must provide relief to people who have been trying to exchange their old notes. The government must intervene immediately," he said. The senior Congress MP said a large number of people from far flung areas have been making rounds of the RBI offices but were unable to exchange their notes. The central bank on December 31 had designated its five offices - Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Nagpur - for exchanging defunct currency notes post 50-day demonetisation period that ended on December 30. Indians, who were abroad from November 9 to December 30, were given a 3-month grace period till March 31, 2017 to deposit the junked notes, while for the NRIs, it is 6 months till June 30. While there is no limit on deposit of defunct notes by Indian nationals who were abroad when the 50-day window was in operation, NRIs can deposit only Rs 25,000 as per FEMA law restrictions.
However, this facility is not available for Indian citizens resident in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The government had declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination bank notes as illegal from November 9, 2016. Subsequently, the President had approved the promulgation of the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Ordinance, 2016 on December 30. It makes holding, transfer and receiving of the demonetised notes a criminal offence, punishable with a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher. Another Congress member Ranjit Ranjan demanded that MPs should have a say in spending of money under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. She said MPs should be involved in projects worth up Rs 100 crore under the scheme. Another member of the party Mullapali Ramachandran raised the issue of wildfire in some areas of Kerala and demanded action by the Centre to contain it. He said people with vested interests may be involved and urgent steps are required to protect the environment.