Away from the crush of long queues and a daily cash crunch that’s expected to exacerbate the crisis come Pay Day tomorrow, an estimated 3,000 workers in the security printing presses in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh and Nashik, Maharashtra are hard at work. And have been incentivised for churning out a record production of Rs 500 notes.
Days after the November 8 announcement, the long two-hour lunch break has been done away with at two presses of the SPMCIL (Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited) and workers now get a daily group lunch incentive — the lunch break has been staggered; the printing never stops with a per diem allowance for extra time thrown in.
In the SPMCIL presses in Dewas and Nashik which have until now taken the burden of exclusively printing the new 500-rupee notes, workers have been given a “target allowance”—marked up March 2017 — which may, roughly, translate into Rs 10,000 extra as monthly emoluments.
Besides this, top SPMCIL officials say they have also cleared the long-pending demand of senior staff at the security presses for a productivity linked pay package which is expected to be announced shortly. This special allowance will annually add another Rs 20,000-30,000 to the pay package of managers and senior supervisors.
As a top SPMCIL official put it, “The workers have been motivated and told they too are in a war-like situation. That the entire country is waiting for the Rs 500 currency notes they are printing.”
As a result, officials said production of Rs 500 notes has gone up these past two weeks from 6 million pieces a day to 10 million a day at Dewas and from 3 million pieces a day to 5 million pieces a day at Nashik.
Except for delivery to adjoining cities, the cargo of currency is now being airlifted and rushed to the 4,400 currency chests across the country.
The almost frantic printing cycle for Rs 500 notes has resulted in some obvious and some unnoticed changes. For one, there are frequent breakdowns of machine, which officials admit, have been badly in need of overhaul for years. Also, tenders are being issued by SPMCIL on a daily basis. For example, over the past few days, tenders have gone out for the purchase of thousands of gunny bags for huge consignments of chemicals and installation of CCTVs and access-control systems at the presses.
Top officials told The Indian Express that as of now, despite the spike in production of Rs 500 notes, they have not yet resorted to emergency import of currency paper since sufficient stocks are available. The only urgent import that has been effected is for OVI (optically variable ink) from the Swiss firm, SICPA, which gives the Rs 500 currency another of its anti-counterfeiting features.