At 7:30am on Thursday, people in large numbers started gathering at Bank Square, Sector 17, to deposit Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and withdraw notes of smaller denomination, hours before the banks were to open.
The central government on Tuesday had discontinued the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
They started making queues outside, only to wait till some banks opened at 9:30am, half an hour earlier than the scheduled time of 10am. Police personnel were deployed at the bank square.
Even as one can deposit the discontinued currency notes in banks till December 30, people chose not to wait and rushed to banks on the first day the banks reopened after the decision.
Pyara Singh (80) of Kansal village said, “I am left with no money to buy grocery. I was eagerly waiting for the banks to open. I am standing in the queue since 9am. I have deposited the money and am waiting to withdraw cash.” Mahender Singh (85), another said, “I am happy with the Prime Minister’s decision (of discontinuing notes). It is okay if we have to face small problem.”
Then there were others standing in queues because they have to attend weddings, do shopping, pay loans and travel.
“There is a wedding in my family and I don’t have money. I could have come later to the bank, but I need money immediately,” said Anchal Pathak, a Sector-20 resident. Several bank branches ran out of money even for short durations, making people to wait. “I have deposited my money and now waiting for cash withdrawal. They are out of cash and they have asked us to wait for some time,” said Poonam Sharma.
“I am studying in London and came to Chandigarh for Diwali holidays. The government’s decision to invalidate high currency notes suddenly made me cashless. I have money which I cannot use. I cannot go out for shopping, eating out or for a party,” said Neha Kaur.
banks make Special arrangements
Many banks had deployed extra staff to cater to the rush. More cash counters were opened. Besides, banks were opened half an hour early and a few extended their closing time by two-three hours. “We have doubled the number of cash counters and have deployed extra staff. We have made separate counters for senior citizens as well. The bank remained open till 6pm and we ensured that all customers were attended to,” said Rajesh Tandon, chief manager, Bank of India.
“At the Sector-17 main branch, 239 people exchanged money and 330 came for depositing currency. There were long queues as the process takes long time,” he said. The SBI branch remained open till 7pm. “We ensured that all customers were attended to. If needed, banks will function for extra hours tomorrow. We have opened extra counters and deputed additional staff,” said Pawan Kumar Kedia, SBI circle financial officer.