EDITORIAL: Grave situation

Diplomatic channel should be used to surrender the banned Indian currency and an amicable settlement reached

With the Indian Government banning its 500 and 1,000 currency notes the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has sent notifications to the banks and financial institutions not to exchange or sell these notes.

Money exchange counters and other such bodies too will no longer be able to sell or buy these notes of high denomination. The NRB is now awaiting the response from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regarding their exchange facilities.

The NRB says that it usually takes the RBI to respond to its communication several days or weeks as per the issue. It says it would be able to issue a public notice only after it gets a positive response from the RBI regarding the collection of currency notes of these denominations.

Nepalese holding such currencies are in a quandary as to what they should do as their exchange or sale has been forbidden in Nepal. There are no exact figures regarding how much of these currencies are being held by Nepalese.

But the amount of the high denomination Indian currency that is holding in Nepal is believed to be substantial.

Nepalese including migrant workers in India are permitted to carry up to only INR 25,000 to Nepal. Much of the Indian currency they possess are of high denomination, so immediate measures have to be taken. Since the RBI response on this matter is still awaited the common people, banks and financial institutions, hotels and restaurants and other organizations are in a state of confusion.

The Nepal government should take up this issue with the Indian government considering the huge amount of money involved. The fate of these currency notes depends on the response of the RBI.

Diplomatic channel should be used to surrender the banned Indian currency and an amicable settlement reached. It might be recalled that when the then Indian government in 2000 had banned the export of high denomination notes to Nepal, the issue involved was resolved through talks at Prime Minister’s level.

Many of those in possession of these high currency notes are now panicking in Nepal, at the same time, causing them much anxiety, particularly those who have stashed it through illegal means.

However, the Nepal Police are upbeat about the ban for it would help in putting an end to smuggling of the fake Indian currency. Most of the trade and transfer of Indian currencies are taking place in high denomination.

The fake money are difficult to identify as to whether they are genuine or not as they are printed by machines. Using the porous border with India the smugglers of counterfeit currency have been able to carry out their nefarious activities.

It is shocking that the Nepali security officials have seized fake Indian currencies amounting to 150 million rupees throughout the country in the past seven years. It is believed that counterfeit Indian notes in circulation number 250 for every one million genuine ones which is an alarming development.

Meanwhile, the Nepalis who possess high currency Indian notes are eagerly awaiting the decision to be taken by the NRB which would determine what to do with the Indian currency of high denomination held by them.

Uncertain future

The much-touted Bagmati clean-up campaign has reached its 180 weeks since it was started in May 2013 led by then chief secretary Leela Mani Poudel.

So far, the campaign in which around half a million people from all walks of life in the Kathmandu Valley took part is said to have collected 7000 metric tons of garbage dumped by the Valley denizens, converting the holy Bagmati into one of the dirtiest rivers in the country.

But the clean-up campaign launched with a hope of reviving the river as such has been facing an uncertain future as there is nobody to take the baton of leadership to give it continuation.

Now the clean-up campaign will be led by the Ministry of Urban Development in the Valley and, outside it will be led by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development. The clean-up campaign activists are worried that the campaign launched for a noble cause may not gain any momentum as it used to.

Although the campaign managed to remove garbage from the river it was not sustainable.

The river and its tributaries will always remain as open drainage unless a ban is imposed on emptying solid waste into them.