Banks opened on Thursday, the first day of this month, to huge crowds of people desperate to withdraw their salaries and clear outstanding bills. Many had gathered outside banks even before the opening time as they wanted to be the first to get in.
Standing in a queue outside a State Bank of India branch in Sarita Vihar, Amit Vijay (36) said, “I had somehow managed to meet my daily needs, but now shopkeepers have stopped giving goods on credit while the domestic help, newspaper vendor, rag picker and washerman have started demanding payment and that too in cash only.”
“Due to this, I took a day off from work to withdraw money,” he added.
Many people in the queues outside banks said they had taken an off from their respective workplaces to withdraw money as they had to clear pending bills and pay drivers, domestic helps etc.
Ravish Raushan, who stood outside a Corporation Bank branch in east Delhi, said, “My landlord refuses to be paid through money transfer to his account. My house rent is Rs12,000 and the ATM dispenses only Rs2,000. Bankers are saying the bank will not give more than Rs6,000 as they do not have sufficient cash. Now I will have to come again tomorrow.”
Despite assurances by senior officials that sufficient cash would reach banks by Wednesday night, most banks continued to put a cap on the maximum withdrawal limit as they didn’t have enough money to dispense.
An official at Central Bank said he had received no cash from the chest on Wednesday and has just Rs3 lakh in the form of Rs50 notes, mostly soiled. A Corporation Bank official too said the bank received just Rs10 lakh so far against their demand of more than Rs30 lakh.
“On one hand, the RBI notification says you can withdraw an unlimited amount of money, and on the other they are not giving more than Rs8000,” said Nadia Hussain, standing outside a State Bank of India branch in Daryaganj.
A senior official of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the problem was mostly because of hoarding of notes by individuals and retailers. He said that the situation would be under control in the coming days as the process of printing new Rs500 notes has been scaled up.