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ATM cash crunch sparks oppostion uproar, comparison to note ban

There have been reports of cash shortages in ATMs of at least seven states. Leaders from the Congress and CPI-M drew comparisons to note ban.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 23:03 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ATM cash crunch,ATMs run dry,ATMs
A security guard sleeps near an 'out of service' ATM machine in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

A cash crunch in ATMs across several states became the latest flashpoint between the government and the Opposition, which cited it as an instance of financial mismanagement, even as finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified on Tuesday the problem was temporary.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked whether the country was facing a “financial emergency”. In a tweet, she stated: “Seeing reports of ATMs running out of cash in several States. Big notes missing. Reminder of #DeMonetisation days. Is there a Financial Emergency going on in the country?”

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who is touring his constituency, too upped the ante on Twitter, stating that the “terror of note-ban” had once again been repeated. Tweeting in Hindi he said “all ATMs are cashless, what has the government done to the banking system”.

“Understand the deceit of Noteban, your money in Nirav Modi’s pocket. Modiji’s ‘Mallya maya’, the terror or noteban is again spreading. The country’s ATMs are again empty, what has been done to the country’s banks,” Gandhi tweeted.

There have been reports of currency shortages in at least seven states – Assam, Gujarat, Eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The Congress party also hit out at the government, saying this was the fallout of its demonetisation move.

In a statement, the government said there had been an unusual demand for currency in the last three months in the states such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, MP and Bihar. The currency supply increased by ?45,000 crore in the first two weeks of April, it said.

Jaitley said there was “more than adequate” currency in circulation and the temporary shortage in certain states was being “tackled quickly”. “Overall there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the Banks. The temporary shortage caused by ‘sudden and unusual increase’ (in demand) in some areas is being tackled quickly,” Jaitley said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote on twitter: “ATMs were empty in November 2016. ATMs are empty now. And the only party flush with cash is the BJP: the people suffer.” He added that the country was “paying the price of demonetization” of November 2016.

Minister of state for finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said the government had formed a committee to assess the situation.

“The government has set up state-wise committee and RBI has also formed a committee to transfer currency from one state to another ... It (the shortage) will be solved in 2-3 days,” he said.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 23:03 IST