The Uttarakhand government on Thursday launched a week-long campaign ‘Digital Mussoorie,’ in association with the State Bank of India (SBI) to make the queen of the hills what government sources termed ‘the first cashless hill station of the country.’ Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat unveiled the project in the presence of senior SBI officials at his camp office on Cantt road in Dehradun.
As part of the campaign, 20 trained staff members of SBI will be in Mussoorie for a week and undertake an exercise wherein they will interact with shop owners, taxi associations, vendors and others involved in various businesses at Mussoorie to train and encourage them for cashless transactions.
Elaborating on the project, a state government official said that the move is aimed to promote cashless transactions and benefit the visitors coming to the hill station. “We will inform and educate people about Aadhar-based online transactions, Bheem app, e-wallet and other online financial transaction facilities.”
However, while the government may have lined up these plans, most business owners in the hill station seemed apprehensive of the move.
Rajat Aggarwal, president of the Mussoorie Traders’ Association said that the announcement came as a surprise to most business owners. “When a similar scheme was launched in South India, all shopkeepers were involved. In Mussoorie however, the announcement has come all of a sudden.”
“Although we’d love to be a part of the digital campaign as it’s a brilliant idea but the fact remains that it needs a lot of background work. There are so many people who don’t have bank accounts. To add to it, more than half don’t have swipe machines. And when these machines come at costs like Rs 7 to 10,000 annually, the fact remains that they wouldn’t be affordable for smaller shops. There should be enough incentives for a business to go digital.”
Hotels didn’t seem very convinced of the move either. R N Mathur, president, Mussoorie Hotels Association, said, “The initiative may seem good but one should also consider how practical and doable is the entire plan. It’s like the wish of Dehradun wanting to become a smart city. But is the groundwork for that happening?”
The most troubled were small time vendors, many of them uneducated. “I only have a basic phone. I don’t even understand what cashless means. How will I know if people have actually paid me or not?” queried Kishan Murena, a shoemaker when informed about the initiative.