Nation at a complete standstill
Appeals by Prime Minister and finance minister notwithstanding, frustration and anger among citizens to get their share of valid notes for meeting daily needs swelled as banks tripped with non-functional ATMs and cash running out of branches at many places.
Unprecedented rush at bank branches was seen all over the country, with people jostling to get new cash on Sunday itself because of a holiday in many parts of the country on Monday. However, despite standing in queues for hours, many had to return empty handed due to cash shortage. Much to people’s dismay, most ATMs remained out of cash on the third consecutive day after they reopened on November 11.
People in distress started queuing up before the branches across the country right from the day-break itself and the wait to get cash got even longer today. Women and the elderly were the worst sufferers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens to bear with the currency crunch for 50 days, saying that was the timeframe needed to rid India’s financial system of corruption through the implementation of the demonetisation scheme.
Regretting inconvenience to people, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said ATMs would take up to three weeks to get normal. Amid the cash-crunch making people impatient and unruly at the branches, the Reserve Bank said there is enough cash in small denominations available. “Public need not be anxious; need not come over to banks repeatedly to draw and hoard. Cash is available when they need it,” RBI said.
Impatience, disappointment and anger prevailed as people in the national capital continued to face hardship in exchanging demonetised currency notes and withdrawing money on a Sunday and struggled to procure essentials to meet daily needs.
People in large numbers queued up outside Banks and ATMs to get cash. Heated arguments were exchanged as cash in the ATMs and banks- and patience among public- ran dry as the day drew to an end.
Security was beefed up outside bank branches, after there were rumours about stampede, people plundering goods from a mall in Seelampur on Sunday.
To manage anxious crowds, as many as 3,400 personnel of paramilitary and Delhi Police along with 200 quick reaction teams have been deployed at ATMs and banks.
At many places, people were seen running from one ATM to other as the machines ran out of cash.
Long, snaking queues continued to be seen outside banks and ATMs in Mumbai with those facing cash paucity complaining about having to wait for hours as the bank branches themselves were running short of currency notes. Longer queues were seen outside public sector banks where a sizeable number of account holders are retired persons and senior citizens.
There was increased anxiety among some customers as the bank staff took longer time to process their cash request. Some people with accounts in cooperative banks in Maharashtra complained that they took longer time to get their money exchanged from such banks because of the cash crunch.
In West Bengal, people were in for a shock on a Sunday morning as the sight of long queues in front of bank branches and ATMs across the state greeted them on the fifth day after Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes were demonetised. With all bank branches open today as per the RBI directive to deal with the unprecedented situation, people formed serpentine queues in front of banks from as early as 6 am to withdraw money.
In Kerala’s Malappuram, a 65-year-old woman was arrested and fake currency notes with a total face value of Rs 37,000 were seized from her when she allegedly came to deposit the high denomination notes at an SBI branch.
In Tamil Nadu, people continued to throng banks and ATMs to exchange or deposit scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for the fourth consecutive day, but many cash vending machines ran dry after a few hours.
People lined up before bank branches since morning and with several more ATMs dispensing Rs 100 notes, it came as a big relief to the harried public.
ATM withdrawal limit increased
1. Weekly limit of Rs 20,000 for withdrawal from bank accounts increased to Rs 24,000. Limit of Rs 10,000 per day removed
2. Banks advised to increase cash withdrawal limit at ATMs from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 per day
in the recalibrated ATMs
3. Banks have been advised to increase exchange limit over the counter from existing Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500