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Cash crunch continues in many states, but banks say situation improving

Empty ATMs and complaints reported from Patna to Haridwar.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2018 19:41 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Cash crunch,ATMs,demonetisation
A queue outside ATMs on Circular road in Ranchi. Many ATMs in the Jharkhand capital ran out of cash on Wednesday. (Diwakar Prasad/ HT Photo)

ATMs in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat ran empty on Wednesday, but banks said cash flow had improved a day after people in many parts of India struggled to get money in their hands.

Public lenders State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and privately owned Axis Bank said in separate statements that only few of their ATMs were without cash.

“Availability of cash in SBI ATM has improved in the last 24 hours,” said Neeraj Vyas, DMD (Chief Operating Officer).

Axis Bank said its cash stock was “better than the industry average and there is no such crisis”. “Even if there are cases of ATMs running out of money it is because people from other banks are coming to withdraw money,” said an Axis Bank official.

Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said he was confident that the situation will be normal soon though in state capital Patna most of the nearly 1,500 ATMs didn’t have cash.

“I needed cash and so walked for about one-and-a half kilometre but did not find cash in ATMs of different banks,” said Jitendra Kumar, an employee of a private company.

Police personnel queue up at a SBI ATM in Patna. (Santosh Kumar/ HT Photo)

In Jharkhand capital’s Ranchi, ATMs ran dry Wednesday evening because of a spike in withdrawals. “SBI has 174 ATMs in the capital city. There are no shortage of currencies in the ATMs. Due to shortage of high denomination note of Rs 2000, some ATMs are exhausting fast,” said Sunil Kumar Gupta, assistant general manager, Ranchi circle, SBI.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Patna circle, in a press statement, said it “was working tirelessly towards supplying currency notes to all the currency chests situated in Jharkhand and Bihar.”

In Uttarakhand, empty ATMs troubled pilgrims of the annual Char Dham Yatra that began Wednesday with the opening of Yamnotri and Gangotri shrines.

In Haridwar, Sohanbhai Bokhiriya, a pilgrim from Porbandar in Gujarat, said he had been looking for an ATM with cash since Tuesday evening. “We halted in Delhi to visit historical monuments. We paid taxi operators and the lodge in cash. We didn’t know about the cash shortage in Uttarakhand, otherwise would have surely withdrawn from ATMs in Delhi” said Sohanbhai.

Padam Singh Thakur, a retired security personnel, found the SBI ATM in Devpura wasn’t working and he ran around to get cash for his relatives, who were visiting him in Haridwar.

“Bank officials have told me that in a day or two cash replenishment will be done. So, now I have come to withdraw from my account and lend it to my relatives,” he said.

In Gujarat, rural areas reported a cash crunch during harvest season. “This is the season of jira, variyali and rabi crops. The whole sale market and APMCs [Agricultural Produce Market Committee] are facing issues because of the big cash crunch. Farmersare not being paid their dues,” said Janak Rawal, president of Maha Gujarat Banks Employees Association (MGBEA).

The MGBEA wrote wrote to the Reserve Bank of India to provide banks with cash.

In West Bengal, the situation in Kolkata was better but in the state’s hinterland there were reports of shortage of cash in ATMs. In Madhya Pradesh, the situation improved in most of the urban areas but cash crunch was reported from Gwalior and Malwa regions.

(With inputs from HT Correspondents in Patna, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Ranchi and Bhopal.)

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 19:41 IST