Bhutanese currency
Representational image of Bhutanese currency

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown has adversely affected the businessmen of Darranga Mela and NK Darranga Mela villages bordering Bhutan in  Assam’s Baksa district.

The people of Darranga Mela of Baksa district and Samdrup Jongkhar town of Samdrup Jongkhar district of East Bhutan have an age-old trading relationship as they use of both Bhutanese and Indian currencies while trading among them.

This age-old trading relationship has been severely hit after the international borders were sealed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indian businessmen have a large amount of Bhutanese currency deposit, which they could not exchange before the lockdown.

“Every small and medium businessman have with them at an average of 30 to 40 thousand Bhutanese currencies,” said Manish Singhania, a cloth and electronics merchant.

“The total amount would be not less than a crore of rupees in Indian currency,” he added.

Sahinur Rahman, an egg trader said, “Earlier we went to Bank of Bhutan, T Bank etc branches in Samdrup Jongkhar town and deposited Bhutanese notes and through RTGS.”

“Cash was transferred to our Indian bank accounts. But we are helpless now,” he added.

Bibhooti Verma, owner of Balajee Grocery shop  said, “We need Indian currencies to purchase goods from the wholesalers of Guwahati.”

“They don’t accept Bhutanese currencies. So, we urgently need to exchange these Bhutan notes,” he added.

On Friday these businessmen have requested the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Association (BIFA) to come forward and solve the crisis faced by the traders.

BIFA is an organisation that is engaged in solving problems of traders from both sides.

Sofikul Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in Goalpara. He can be reached at: