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Demonetisation may have clipped Hornbill festival’s wings

By EMN Updated: Nov 30, 2016 12:49 am

DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 29 : The Nagaland government’s annual tourism project, the Hornbill Festival, could yet turn out to be the biggest casualty of the demonetisation of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes.

Besides Nagaland’s pint-sized economy, its other major feature is that it is a rural economy. An overwhelming majority of its transactions are undertaken through cash. With the shortage of cash caused by the demonetisation, not just in Nagaland but across India, it has given rise to fears that the financial aspect of Hornbill Festival, which begins Thursday at Kisama, would be badly hit.

A top-ranked bank official on Tuesday told Eastern Mirror that the state’s government was certainly (and quite understandably) short on money especially of the lower denominations. This, coupled with similar shortages in the market and private homes, has put a question mark over the possibility of any substantial transactions taking place during the festival.
Most government officials were reluctant to discuss the Hornbill Festival, and politely turned down any queries. However, the state’s Finance Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Temjen Toy, told our Kohima correspondent that the government was ‘making all efforts’ to replenish the depleting stock of smaller denomination banknotes in Nagaland.

Toy said that the state government was in touch with the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India regarding the situation. Calls made to an official of the Tourism department for more information, and confirmation, went unanswered.

It was also learnt that the Finance Commissioner had held a video conference with bankers and deputy commissioners of districts on Tuesday to review the situation arising from the demonetisation and to examine ongoing arrangements to facilitate exchange of demonetised notes in the interior, rural areas.

Feedback from the districts indicate that the administration had been taking steps to assist people from the remote areas who do not have bank accounts to open new accounts to deposit the demonetised notes; to also assist some to deposit money into accounts of VDBs wherever possible.

The district administrations are reportedly being asked to take steps to educate the public of villages under their respective jurisdiction about the need to have the demonetised notes in their possession deposited into banks by December 30, 2016.

Setting up mobile camps to enable opening of bank accounts in remote villages (in coordination with local banks and arrangements for mobile cash vans where bank branches are not available) was also said to have been discussed during the conference. This is to facilitate deposits and withdrawal of cash.

Also, according to sources, the issue of equitable distribution of currency notes by banks was also discussed.

By EMN Updated: Nov 30, 2016 12:49:17 am