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Cash crunch woes: Queues shorter at banks but serpentine lines continue at ATMs

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 19, 2016 12:53 IST
Cash crunch

A queue outside the Punjab National Bank at Connaught Place in New Delhi.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

After ten days of demonetisation of high value notes, there are shorter queues at many banks following some restrictions on exchange of defunct bills, but people still thronged ATMs due to the cash crunch.

All banks will on Saturday serve only their respective customers and will not exchange the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from customers of other banks. The restriction is not applicable on senior citizens and they can visit any bank to exchange old recalled currency notes.

The exchange limit has already been reduced to Rs 2,000 (from Rs 4000) to ease some pressure on the cash demand.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the rush at bank branches has come down significantly and that there is no panic.

“Queues have become extremely small and this is all over the country,” Jaitley had said.

To screen repeat customers, banks at many places are applying indelible ink mark on fingers of people who are exchanging notes.

Read | Out in the cold at night: Cash rush brings life to a halt outside Delhi banks

With the government and the Reserve Bank of India struggling to manage cash availability across the country, the small businesses -- including vegetable vendors, dhabas and small kirana stores -- that use cash as mode of transaction were among those hit.

People faced inconvenience in purchasing milk, vegetables, medicines as they did not have adequate small currency notes.

At various hospitals across the country, patients and their family members witnessed problems for buying medicines, food and availing transportation.

Many daily labourers were rendered jobless as construction and other activities came to a standstill in the wake of cement, sand and other supplies not coming in.

ATMs in Kolkata were stocked with cash but there weren’t many people lining up because it dispensed with just Rs 2000 notes.

“I have been running from one ATM to another over the past two days. But I am yet to find an ATM which could dispense some Rs 100 notes. Either the ATMs were shut down as they had run out of money or they had only Rs 2000 notes,” said Amiya Halder a resident of Patuli in south Kolkata.

The scene was just the opposite outside ATMs that were still dispensing Rs 100 notes as dozens lined up after receiving the news.

To ease inconvenience, the government has allowed withdrawals up to Rs 2.5 lakh for weddings and up to Rs 50,000 for farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 surprised citizens by announcing demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and since then large number of seemingly unending queues before banks and post offices are seen in order to exchange these currencies.

Read |  As demonetisation woes spill over, petrol pumps to provide Rs 2,000 a day