Seventy-year-old Hariom Singh has a fractured hip but still arrived at a bank on Saturday to exchange the scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. He stood in line for an hour waiting his turn, but could not continue to do so. His wife then stood in the queue in his place, but the bank closed for lunch and the couple had to wait further.
“Both of us came in an auto and found a long queue of senior citizens here in Navyug Market. Before this, I went to two or three other banks in the market, but there were long queues everywhere so we decided to exchange the notes at this branch. It is very difficult for me to stand in long queues due to my fracture,” Singh, a resident of Sihani near Meerut Road said at the bank at Navyug Market.
Similarly, 64-year-old Kamlesh Devi, who suffers from high blood pressure, came from Sadarpur with her husband, who stood in the queue in her place.
“I stood in a queue to deposit money and later stood in another queue to exchange old notes. There is no arrangement for senior citizens – no separate queues or seating facility ,” she said.
The Indian Banks’ Association had said on Friday that banks would serve only account holders on Saturday but senior citizens could continue to approach any bank to exchange old notes. However, many of the bank branches in Ghaziabad did not have any special provision on Saturday to facilitate senior citizens who were seen standing in queues.
“I stood in a line for over two hours. There was no place or arrangement made for any senior citizen to get some rest. I had to get the exchange form from inside the bank with a lot of difficulty and again stood in a different queue to exchange notes,” said 63-year-old Mohammed Yameen of Hindon Vihar.
Various bank customers reached their respective bank branches early in the morning to try to conduct transactions quickly. However, senior citizens still could not avoid the chaos even at the lead district branch of Syndicate Bank at Navyug Market.
“I came here at 1pm, but there was a heavy rush at the main gate that has an iron shutter in place. People, including women and senior citizens, were standing outside and no one was being allowed to move in. Those who arrived early did not offer to allow senior citizens to enter first,” said Manohar Singh, a 53-year-old senior accountant from Lohiya Nagar.
When asked, lead bank manager of Ghaziabad, RS Meena, said bank branches should have made adequate arrangements to facilitate senior citizens.
“I will get the issues inquired into and ask the branches to take appropriate measures to at least provide senior citizen-friendly facilities. I will also pursue the issue of streamlining queues with police officials. During Friday’s meeting with the district magistrate, bank officials had also raised the issue of cash shortage. I hope more cash will arrive at different branches by Monday,” he added.