If you have Indian currency that has been deemed invalid, there are only limited options to rid yourself of the cash.
In a shock move Thursday, the Indian government announced as of midnight it would stop the over-the-counter exchange of old currency notes — bills of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination that were deemed useless in market earlier this month.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a surprise televised address to the nation to announce the government’s immediate plan to invalidate the most circulated cash in the country. The move is an attempt to stamp out cash, known as “black money,” being hoarded to avoid tax.
The population of 1.3 billion people was earlier given the option to show up at banks and post offices to exchange the old notes with newly issued currency. As of Thursday midnight, this option is no longer available. It is still possible to deposit money through banks till the end of the year, however.
Modi, as well as the RBI had previously said that Indians will have until Dec. 30 to exchange their old notes, something that the Indian ministry didn’t acknowledge Thursday night.
Indians who still have old currency bills, and wish to get them exchanged, are now required to go to central bank’s offices, the RBI said today. Though the announcement offers some relief, it likely will draw longer snaking queues outside central banks and cause further tension in the country.
If the lines are overwhelming, there is a small bit of hope. You can still make use of the old currency notes for certain purposes including buying prescription drugs and booking train tickets. But you have to be quick: this too will end soon, with Dec. 15 set as the deadline.
In its latest announcement, the government added that people can also add credit to their mobile balances with old notes and students can pay their tuition bills at government schools.
And if all else fails, there’s always this: