As the nation scrambles for fresh banknotes, the Parliament complex too is buzzing with activity.
The two branches of State Bank of India and three ATMs in the complex possibly provide the easiest way to get or exchange money.
Outside, people wait for hours to get inside an ATM or bank branches, wasting precious person-hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to bust black money and fake currency rackets.
“I got my money in just 10 minutes,” said an official of the reporting section of the Lok Sabha on Friday.
SBI has an exclusive branch in the Parliament building — serving only MPs and retired lawmakers. But during this hour of crisis, it has thrown open its doors for Parliament staff as well. There is also a general branch in the Parliament annex.
Apart from the officials, visitors and security personnel posted in the complex can fill their wallets without much hassle.
Some MPs, too, prefer to come to Parliament to exchange money. On Friday afternoon, Shiv Sena’s Chandrkant Khaire and BJD’s Prasanna Patasani walked into the bank, as around 60 people waited outside for their turns.
“They have issued tokens and will allow up to 60 people,” said a House staff.
While others are wondering where to go to get money, news pours in that one of the ATMs, which had stopped functioning for a few hours, will open in half an hour.
The news spreads like wildfire. Even as two engineers are still trying to fix the glitch, around 30 people — from cleaners to security staff to officers — are in the queue.
Within an hour, another ATM restarts after refilling cash. The queue is longer, but still much shorter than those at general ATMs and bank branches.
As the sun drops behind the imposing Parliament building, almost everyone is happy. “I have a wedding to attend. I have got some money in hand,” said Kaushal Kumar, a junior staff.
“I had no money to pay auto fares before I came here,” a lady tells her colleagues as she walks out of the ATM with a bundle of Rs 100 notes in her hand.