Adding to the financial misery that people have been experiencing since last Wednesday, banks across the city were shut on Monday, on Guru Nanak Jayanti. Many automated teller machines (ATMs) — the only source of cash — ran out of money within hours.
“As banks were shut on Monday, we expected ATMs to function properly and contain sufficient balance. However, shutters were down on almost all machines,” said Ameya Bhaskar, a Borivli-based fast food joint owner. “The ATMs that were open didn’t contain notes. Only one out of 10 machines were functioning,” he added.
Some said the decision to demonetise higher-denomination notes was good, provided the results were favourable. Ram Yadav, a construction worker, said the government should stick to its words, considering the upcoming civic polls. “If the decision is really against the circulation of black money, then we are all for it. If it is not and the effect is not seen in the coming months, it will reflect in our votes,” he said. Yadav waited at a Kandivli ATM for more than three hours.
At some places, public ire was evident as residents walked from one dysfunctional ATM to another. “I waited for more than an hour at one ATM, then an hour more at another. Now, I have been waiting for almost two hours and I fear the cash will run out at this machine too,” said Pankaj Trivedi, who was waiting at a Bandra ATM.
“When is this going to end? Once people start running out of patience, they will go berserk and might do something dangerous,” he added.
Mohan Vichare, a businessman, said the execution has loopholes and that only common people are stepping out. “Such a historic decision and they executed it so badly. Are bigwigs getting their money by waiting in queues too? I smell something fishy,” said Vichare.
Omkar Joshi, an advertising company employee, was waiting outside a closed ATM at Dadar. “I am waiting for the truck to refill the machine so I can be the first one to withdraw money,” he said. “I have taken a leave anyway. There is no point going home,” he said.
Some people waited peacefully for their withdrawals and deposits. “We have to face certain problems at the start. It is not we, the common people, who should worry. Ours is legal money anyway,” said Sunil Jaiswal, a Kandivli-based mobile shop owner.
“Our Prime Minister seemingly wants to curb the conspicuous consumption of people. It applies to Mumbaiites, as we tend to spend a bomb,” Jaiswal added.