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Nearly 1 lakh ATMs recalibrated till today: Will it become easier to withdraw cash?

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 23, 2016 10:59 IST
Beena Parmar

People queue outside an ATM of State Bank of India (SBI) to withdraw money in Kolkata.(Reuters File Photo)

Close to one lakh ATMs, which account for about 45% of the cash vending machines in the country, will be recalibrated by Wednesday morning and made ready to dispense currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000, officials have said.

“Out of 2.2 lakh ATMs, 82,500 were recalibrated till Monday evening. We are recalibrating about 12,000-14,000 units on a daily basis, so I assume and hope it should be done by tomorrow (Wednesday). These ATMs have been reset as per the direction of the task force set up by the government and RBI,” Rituraj Sinha, president of Cash Logistics Association of India, said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up a task force last week under its deputy governor SS Mundra to oversee the recalibration of the automated teller machines after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on November 8 that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes will be scrapped as legal tender.

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The surprise move was aimed at curbing illicit funds and corruption.

ATM cash logistics firms met RBI officials and banks’ currency heads in order to sort the dearth of cash availability at the ATMs.

“The RBI wants the banks to make the currency available at ATMs on a priority basis. Earlier, we were required to replenish the ATMs twice a day with Rs 100 and lower denomination notes. With the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 currency notes, the availability of cash at ATMs has increased and hence queues are shortening. ATM functioning should normalise in a month,” Sinha said.

Sinha, also a member of the RBI task force, added that the ATMs have been recalibrated in a manner that regional balance is maintained while giving priority to rural areas.

With the recalibration, ATMs are now stocking Rs 50-60 lakh and are able to cater to a higher demand as against Rs 4-5 lakh earlier. With more cash at ATMs, queues outside such machines are also getting smaller.

“... We have added additional field force to manage our logistics. The queues are more manageable now. We are working round the clock,” Navroz Dastur, CEO of NCR India, a leading ATM firm, said.

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The measure to withdraw higher value banknotes has sparked public anger as millions of people have lined up at ATMs across the country to get cash.