Bank queues ease out, ATMs still face rush
The 50-day deadline that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave for things to improve after demonetisation ends on Thursday but ATMs continue to see long queues though crowds have eased at many banks.
The trend is expected to continue over the next three days but the actual test will be once banks reopen on January 2 and people line up to withdraw salaries to pay monthly liabilities.
A senior official at a State Bank of India branch on Asaf Ali Road said, “It would still be early to say that things are back to normal as it is the end of month and it is that time of the year when many people go to other cities for holidays.”
“Though the cash counters are still occupied all the time, there is hardly anyone going back without getting entry into the bank,” he said.
Several banks have now stopped issuing tokens and the extra security deployment has also been removed.
Many bank officials said they are still not getting sufficient currency from the chest but cash flow from business enterprises such as petrol pumps and vehicle showrooms have helped ease the situation.
As a reason, banks with accounts of business enterprises that deal in cash are in a better positioned to pay customers but those that do not have such accounts are still rationing or running out of currency.
Most bankers said the situation is taking time to normalise as not too many people are not coming forward to deposit the new notes.
“We have not got over Rs30,000 per day from common people in the last couple of weeks. That too is mostly deposited by people who have to get challans or demand drafts made,” said a senior official from Corporation Bank in North Delhi.
The queues at ATMs have shortened but people still spend hours to get Rs2,500 — the maximum withdrawal limit at ATMs.
Abhinish Singh, a resident of Lado Sarai, said, “Though, the queue at ATMs is short during night hours but during daytime I still have to wait for an hour to withdraw money. If they are giving ₹24,000 at banks, why can’t they give Rs10,000 at ATMs too. This will lessen the rush.”
About 50 days after demonetisation, some people termed the thinner crowd at banks as signs of revival while others said the situation prevails because it is month-end and people do not have the money to withdraw.
Mohammad Rashid, standing in a queue outside an ATM in ITO said, “It will take more time for the situation to normalise. Demonetisation has affected our daily life to an extent that we cannot take any decision freely. We have to think, how we will manage our cash all the time before taking decisions.”
Shubham Bhardwaj of New Ashok Nagar was, however, hopeful that it was a matter of time before the government increases the withdrawal limit to at least Rs5,000 and things get back to track.