Banks have probably never occupied as much space in public mind as they have been doing since November 11, two days after demonetisation was announced on November 8. Banks were closed to the public for these two days as the staff worked to prepare for exchanging old currency notes with new notes and collecting deposits of old notes. However, nothing could have prepared them for the chaos that followed.
From the regional manager down to the peons and security guards, everyone has been working for over 12 hours daily dealing with long queues of angry people, cash shortage, handling deposits and exchanging old notes, apart from dealing with routine customers.
Problems increased a fortnight after November 8 when the flow of cash reduced. Currency chests of six banks in Gurgaon had to supply currency to branches of their own and other banks. There are 715 bank branches in Gurgaon of which only 239 have their own currency chests. To add to this, banks were also told by the Reserve Bank of India to deposit and withdraw currency from the regional office in the state capital Chandigarh rather than neighbouring Delhi.
“This is a litmus test for the banks for the first time. Support from the staff is laudable,” Ram Niwas, Haryana’s additional chief secretary (home), had said during a meeting in Gurgaon.
While this was the state in banks, shortage and short tempers prevailed at ATMs too. Long lines outside ATMs at all hours have now become a staple in the city. Although banks claimed that all 1,304 ATMs of the district had been calibrated to hold the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, more than 700 remained out of cash for days together. HTC