Residents have been hopping from one ATM kiosk to another since Thursday when banks reopened after the demonetisation of ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes. However, most of them returned empty handed even after searches that extended late into the night.
During a reality check till around 1am on Saturday, HT found that majority of the ATMs were either shut or had a message saying ‘the machine is out of cash’.
Addressing the nation on November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of high denomination currency notes in an effort to curb the circulation of black money. Serpentine queues have been a common feature outside all ATMs ever since, with machines running out of cash within hours of a refill.
“I went out after having dinner around 10pm and searched all Govindpuram ATM kiosks, but cash was no where to be found. I tried at that hour assuming most customers would have returned home after the day-long queues outside ATMs and banks,” Sanjan Sharma of Govindpuram said.
All ATMs at prime market areas such as Chopla, Ambedkar Road, Gandhi Nagar, Navyug Market and Raj Nagar District Centre (RDC) either had no cash or downed shutters. Customers arrived as late as 1am hoping to withdraw cash.
“My children are down with fever and I need cash in hand. There is no way I can find time to stand in queues for two to three hours during the day. So I searched for ATMs at night. The business is already sluggish and the common man is suffering everyday. The situation of long queues and residents facing shortage of cash in hand is likely to persist,” Mukesh Sharma, a property agent at Raispur, said.
Continuing the trend on Friday, all bank branches at Navyug Market, Lajpat Nagar, Shalimar Garden, Rajendra Nagar, Indirapuram, Vaishali, Raj Nagar and RDC had long queues with an average of 250 to 300 customers lining up throughout the day.
“Long queues exhaust cash in ATMs very soon although cash is loaded by 8 to 9 pm every day. After one withdrawal, customers return the next day as there is a withdrawal limit per card. This is leading to long queues and exhausting cash within hours after it is loaded. We hope the situation improves,” RS Meena, lead bank manager, said.
He said 25% of bank staff in the district was diverted to the National Lok Adalat where 198 bank cases to the tune of ₹1.27 crore were being settled.
“To avoid staff shortage in branches, we have roped in officials from administrative offices of banks,” he said.