The Tiruppur district administration has approved the release of monthly old-age pension for two elderly women who lost over Rs 45,000 to the demonetisation initiative in 2016.
Periya Rangammal and Chinna Rangammal, who are siblings in their seventies, had secretly saved demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 for their final rites or a likely medical emergency. However, it was only when they had to pay for an eye surgery last year that the family realised that the currency notes in their possession were worthless.
The women said their sons did inquire three years ago if they possessed any demonetised currency that required exchanging, but they had denied it on the suspicion that it was a prank aimed at taking away their money. "We never knew about this," said Periya Rangamal.
The two elderly siblings, one of whom suffers from tuberculosis, have tragic stories to relate. Both lost their husbands early on in life, besides a son each to the deadly disease. Now they lead a hand-to-mouth existence in separate ramshackle shacks with their children, who work as daily labourers.
It was their neighbour, Manimaran, who alerted the local press to their condition. "They have no source of income in this old age. The government should take their health and economic plight into account, and replace their demonetised notes with valid currency," he said.
However, Jagannathan - their brother - said District Collector K Vijaya Karthikeyan's gesture will help Periya Rangammal and Chinna Rangammal to some extent. "The pension will help them get by, but they will be very grateful if the government helps replace the demonetised currency in their possession too," he added.
The Tiruppur Collector said that exchanging the obsolete notes may not be possible at this stage. "Still, on the behalf of the district administration, we are helping her with a monthly pension of Rs 1,000. We have made arrangements for their medical treatment too," K Vijaya Karthikeyan said, adding that he is checking with banks if anything can be done with the demonetised currency.