TAMULPUR: The small and medium scale businessmen of Darrangamela and NK Darranga Mela villages along the Indo-Bhutan border in Baksa district is facing a hard time in exchanging the Bhutanese currency Ngultrum to the Indian rupee. The people of Darrangamela and Samdrup Jongkhar town in eastern Bhutan have an age-old trading relationship.
The use of both Bhutanese currency and the rupee is common in the businesses of these areas and is accepted as a means of trading. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the international borders were sealed and as a result, the entry gate at Samdrup Jongkhar was also sealed.
This led to the situation where the businessmen in the Indian side were left with large sums of Bhutanese currency. "Every small and medium businessmen have with them at an average of 70 to 80 thousand Bhutanese Ngultrum. The total amount would amount to crores in Daranga Mela and NK Darrangamela area," said Manish Singhania, a young businessman of the locality.
Sahinur Rahman, an egg trader said, "Earlier we went to the Bank of Bhutan in Tashi and bank branches situated in Samdrup Jongkhar town. We deposited the Bhutanese currency and through RTGS, cash in the form of rupees were transferred to our Indian bank accounts. But now with the sealing of the border, we are helpless."
Bibhooti Verma, owner of a grocery shop in Balajee said, "We need Indian currency to purchase goods from the wholesalers in Guwahati or other places of India. They don't accept the Bhutanese currency. So, we urgently need to exchange these Bhutan notes."
Meanwhile, on Friday, these businessmen have appealed through a memorandum to the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Association (BIFA), an active organisation solving problems of both the side of the borders, to come forward and solve the crisis being faced by these traders.
The memorandum was also signed by the other businessmen like Binoy Chetri, Rajkumar Das and Ranjit Talukdar. It may be mentioned here that Darranga Mela village is located in Tamulpur Sub-division in Baksa district of Assam. It is situated almost 100 km away from Guwahati and 80 km from Baksa district headquarter Mushalpur.
The town in Samdrup Jongkhar is one of the oldest in Eastern Bhutan and is a bustling centre with shopkeepers and hawkers coming from the nearby border of Assam to sell their wares.