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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

ATMs run dry of cash due to security crunch

Mahua Venkatesh , Hindustan Times  new delhi, August 25, 2013
First Published: 22:21 IST(25/8/2013) | Last Updated: 22:26 IST(25/8/2013)

Does your automatic teller machine (ATM) often inconvenience you with its ‘out-of-service’ message? Blame it on cash logistics. With the massive expansion of ATM networks in the country, companies such as Brinks, SIS Prosecur and CMS, which are primarily responsible for topping up ATMs with hard cash, are finding it difficult to keep up with the demand due to a dearth of armed security guards, who mandatorily need to be in the cash vans. 

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With about 2,500 new ATMs coming up every month, the problem could just magnify, especially during the festival season. Besides, finance minister P Chidambaram has asked all government banks to open ATMs at all their branches by the end of the current financial year. 

Recently, Naina Lal Kidwai, Ficci president and HSBC country head, wrote a letter to D Subbarao, governor, Reserve Bank of India, drawing his attention to this issue. “With the quantum of public money handled by cash logistics companies, I would like to draw your attention to the need to have minimum standards and guidelines defined for them,” Kidwai’s letter to the RBI governor said. The issue has also been raised with the finance and home ministries.

In a plush South Delhi colony last year, a cash van was attacked by a group of men while topping up an ATM and about Rs. 4-5 crore was robbed with a guard getting killed in the process.

The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, which was formulated in 2005 to define norms for this sector, was enacted in many states but its enforcement has been inconsistent and incomplete. And unlike the 1959 Arms Act which allows individual applicants to hold arms licences, no such clause exists for it either.

“We have to curtail operations often due to non-availability of armed security guards and this could lead to further disruption,” Rituraj Sinha, co-chair, Ficci Private Security Sector Committee told Hindustan Times.

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