In 100 days following the demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, there has been no relief from the cash crunch for residents of Gautam Budh Nagar. Bank officials said they are able to fill ATMs only up to one-fifths of their capacity. An increase in the withdrawal limit has also resulted in cash getting exhausted soon.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of high denomination banknotes on November 8. Following the move, banks and ATMs ran out of cash across the country with long queues of people waiting to withdraw their money. “Most of the ATMs still do not have adequate cash to meet customers’ demand. Officials are busy conducting elections in the state while people have been suffering,” Vipin Chauhan of Sector 49 said.
Lead bank manager for Gautam Budh Nagar, AK Singh, said that normalcy in ATMs will return only post-Holi (in March) when cash supply will be increased.
“At present, ₹5 lakh is being provided to each ATM against the requirement of ₹20-₹25 lakh. However, the situation is much better than that in November and December of 2016. Normalcy in ATMs will be resumed when we start filling each ATM to its capacity,” Singh said.
He blamed the cash shortage on the non-availability of police for transporting cash. “The district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police in Ghaziabad refused to provide police force for transferring cash from the currency chest in Ghaziabad. Cash could have been transferred from Ghaziabad to Gautam Budh Nagar, Hapur and Bulandshahr districts, but the DM and SSP said their hands were tied due to ongoing elections. Though polling is over in these districts, the police force has been sent to other districts on poll duty,” Singh said.
The Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate (DM) NP Singh on Wednesday discussed the issue of lack of cash in ATMs with the bank managers in a meeting at his Sector 27 camp office.
The DM is likely to write to the Reserve Bank of India to address the security issue faced by banks for the transportation of money from currency chest to banks in Noida and Greater Noida.
AK Singh, the lead bank manager, said, “Almost all ATMs in the district have enough cash to serve public. But few ATMs may have some issues of cash or technical glitch. As the currency chests for Gautam Budh Nagar are located in Ghaziabad and Meerut, we face problems of security in bringing cash daily.”
The lead bank manager is hopeful that the situation will improve after the elections.
“Most ATMs are running short of cash because the withdrawal limit has been increased to ₹24,000 per week. There is a gap between the demand and supply. It is going to be ₹50,000 per week from February 20 and unlimited from March 13. However, the situation will improve by then as the elections will be over on March 11 and we will be getting adequate security for transporting cash,” the lead bank manager said.
The DM also directed banks to open accounts of 5-6 lakh industrial and construction workers at the earliest. Gangeshwar Sharma, a leader of the workers’ union, was also present.
Since demonetisation, banks have been able to open fresh accounts of only 40,000 workers.
The Noida Entrepreneurs’ Association’s president, Vipin Malhan, said that the industrialists are not facing any problem in disbursing wages to their workers. “Nearly 2.5 lakh employees, including workers in various factories of Noida were already holding bank accounts. Some of them are being issued bearer cheques and with the government ending restriction on cash withdrawal from the current account, some industrialists are withdrawing cash from the bank to pay their employees,” he said.
However, the DM emphasised on the opening of bank accounts for workers at the meeting.
“Since the government is encouraging cashless transactions and discouraging the use of cash, we need to open bank accounts of labourers immediately. I have decided to reward branch managers who help construction workers and other poor people in opening bank accounts,” the DM said.
The administration is planning to link each worker’s bank account with their Aadhaar number as the Central government is pushing digital transactions, officials said.
The Centre also made it mandatory for the salary of workers to be paid digitally. However, the opening of bank accounts for 5-6 lakh workers is not an easy task for the already overburdened banks.
“Once bank accounts are opened and linked with Aadhaar, labourers will start using digital wallets and other modes of cashless transactions, which will also reduce the burden on banks. Therefore, the banks should make an effort to open the account of each worker and educate them to go digital,” the DM said.