A resident swipes to pay at a grocery shop in Palakhede village in Agar district on Wednesday. (HT photo)
Amid chaos and public outrage over demonetisation and Centre’s push for digital transaction, Palakhedi village in Agar Malwa district is heading towards becoming the first ‘cashless village’ in Madhya Pradesh.

Situated about eight kilometres away from district headquarters under Agar development block, Palakhedi, a tiny village with a population figuring around 800, has about 90% of people (more than 700), with bank accounts and ATM cards. They transact through mobile banking on a daily basis.

Village sarpanch Shanti Devi Paliwal said that post demonetisation, the situation in the village was worse, with no one having cash with them and all businesses being conducted only on credit. The villagers had spent a month this way till December 8, when Bank of India officials began their campaign on cashless transactions and mobile banking.

“The impact of demonetisation was extreme, but we handled the situation quite well, thanks to villagers’ support for cashless economy,” Paliwal said.

Village grocery shops have their own POS terminal

The village has five grocery shops and now each shop has its own point-of-sale (POS) terminal. The villagers pay their grocery and other bills through these.

Devendra Thakur, one of the grocery shop owners, said, “Post demonetisation announcement, I sold grocery items on udhar (credit) basis, but how long could I have afforded this? Now with payments being made through POS terminals, things are back in place.”

Villagers use mobile banking to pay electricity, water bills

Villagers have also started using mobile banking to pay their electricity and water bills.

Vinita Paliwal, a primary school teacher in Palakhedi, said, “A good number of villagers had Jan Dhan accounts with ATM cards before demonetisation too, but most of them never used the card. Now most of them pay their various bills through mobile banking, which is a good sign.”

Ashok Pathak, Bank of India manager of Ujjain zone, said that they had resolved to make 10 villages in five districts under the Ujjain zone cashless by March 10, and have been holding awareness campaigns towards the same. “We started our campaign on December 8. Palakhedi village in Agar Malwa district will turn 100 percent cashless by December 31.”

Ujjain Zone covers five districts including Ujjain, Dewas, Agar Malwa, Shajapur and Rajgarh.

“We started our campaign by informing people about the benefits of cashless transactions, and introduced our app ‘Chillar’ to them. We taught them how to make direct transfer of money from one account to another using the app. We were able to gain their trust,” Pathak said.