Unable to sustain himself, Mr Akhtar went back to his hometown Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. For the next five months, he continued to struggle.
Now Mr Akhtar has once again returned to the powerlooms of Bhiwandi.
"I was not getting any money. There was no cash to pay for food, send home or even fulfil my basic necessities. That's why I returned home last year. But in the 5 months that I stayed at home in Kanpur, I hardly earned anything. With no money left, I had no option but to return," said Mr Akhtar.
Like Mr Akhtar, thousands of migrant workers were forced to return home after note ban as loom owners were unable to pay salaries due to cash crunch.
Bhiwandi's Chavindra area is home to over 1200 powerloom units. Almost all the employees working in the units are migrant labourers from north India. Loom owners at Chavindra say that over 70 per cent of the 20,000 workforce left their jobs and went home soon after demonetisation. Barely few have returned since.
While there is no official government data on powerloom industry, a recent report by the Labour Bureau revealed that there has been a decrease of 1.5 lakh casual workers across different sectors.
"I had 12 people working under me but now I'm left with six. Four left after demonetisation. Two have returned to work again at the loom," said powerloom supervisor Hanif Ibrahim Nathani.
Six months since the note ban, India has moved towards digitisation. However, Bhiwandi's powerlooms and its workers still have a long way to get there.