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Cash crunch woes: Banks shut across 18 states, ATMs run dry

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 14, 2016 15:02 IST
Banks shut

No cash in ATM machine at Mayur Vihar as banks stay shut on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, in New Delhi.(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)

Banks across 18 states remained closed on Monday on occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti and ATMs weren’t stocked with money, sparking fears that public anger will rise over a cash crunch following a decision to scrap large-denomination currency.

Queues of people waiting to withdraw or exchange cash had got longer over the weekend and many say the crowd will swell manifold when banks re-open on Tuesday.

But given the pressure on the banking system following Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprise move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, a few state-run banks are “running skeletal branches active” on Monday, said a banker with the State Bank of India.

Banks are open in south Indian states, Gujarat, Tripura, Goa and Kerala among others.

But in large swathes of the country, ATMs weren’t refilled with money – a serious problem given the growing resentment among people about the lack of cash at hand.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday assured people that banks will operate at full capacity on

November 14 in states where Guru Nanak’s birthday is not a holiday. But the trouble is that is more than half of Indian states and union territories, it is a bank holiday.

“Our bank branches are operational in 18 states to serve the customers uninterrupted after the demonetisation was announced,” the Axis Bank spokesperson told Hindustan Times.

Experts also fear a full-day holiday might throw the entire process of currency circulation out of gear. It may also take more time to refill ATMs with cash once they reopen on Tuesday, leading to more chaos.