Tourists thronging Shimla in anticipation of fresh snowfall were in for a rude shock as cash crunch played spoilsport even as the capital town is battling electricity and water woes.
Due to the holiday on Saturday, most ATMs in town were dry by Sunday. Even ATMs on the Mall Road and surrounding areas displayed ‘no cash available’ message on Saturday evening.
Last week due to heavy snowfall, there was less movement of people in the town and so they did not realise the cash crunch.
“After normalcy was restored, people started rushing to the ATMs to withdraw money,” said Atul Jaret,a Shimla resident, adding, “There is still a cap on withdrawal but people are not getting even ₹4,500.”
Meanwhile, erratic power supply was hinderance for traders in Shimla town, who were trying to go cashless. “Those who have cash card machines could not use it due to the power outage,” said Pradeep Kalia, a Shimla-based trader.
Yug Sabbharwal, a tourist from Jalandhar, said he tried to withdraw money from atleast four ATMs on the Mall road on Sunday but all were out of cash. “All shops do not accept cash cards. It took nearly two hours for me to get ₹4,500,” he said. He added, “Banks should at least ensure cash availability in tourists towns like Shimla.”
Shimla deputy commissioner and District Level Banker Committee (DLBC) chairman Rohan Chand Thakur said banks had been asked to ensure cash availability in its branches as well as ATMs. “Directions will be passed to maintain cash availability especially on weekends,” he said.
Cash availability remains an issue in Shimla, like other towns, post demonetisation. It took much longer time for recalibration of money dispensing machines and shortage of the new notes of ₹500 worsened the woes. Few days ago an incident of damaging a cash dispensing machine was reported near Lakkar bazaar. “Someone broke the screen which had been displaying “No cash availability” for many days,” Madan Sharma, Lakkar bazaar resident said.