According to Indian Railway sources, many of these people could end up waiting for 90 days or more to get their money.
When the government announced that it was replacing all currency notes in Rs 500 and 1000 nominations on Nov 8, it made an exception for railways and airlines.
In both these cases, it said old notes would continue to be acceptable.
Because of this, many people who could not deposit their high-value notes in banks fearing tax scrutiny went to their nearest railway booking counters and bought tickets worth tens of thousands of rupees.
Tickets were booked under wait-list even when there was no chance of them getting confirmed. In fact, wait listed tickets were preferred as these could be cancelled at practically zero cost and the railways would return the money in the new currency.
As a result, the total ticket booking volumes zoomed and the Indian Railways was flooded with old notes.
However, facing a flood of old cash, the Railways suspended cash refunds for ‘high value bookings’ on Nov 10. From that day onwards, it started issuing ‘ticket deposit receipts’ or TDRs when a high-value ticket was cancelled, instead of giving cash.
These TDRs had to be filed before railway authorities along with the claimants’ bank details, and the refund would be routed to the bank accounts.
However, the Indian Railways also got direction from the government to keep a record of the people who were engaging in high-value bookings and cancellations.
Moreover, the refund amount was not to be disbursed until a basic level of scrutiny was carried out.
As a result of this, the Indian Railways has not been able to adhere to the time line of clearing all TDR claims within 90 days, the official said.
The official said the whole process could take weeks or months to complete due to the sheer volume of TDRs filed during this period. “There is no guarantee that we could finish the job in x number of days,” said the official.