After a wait of long 36 hours, lakhs of anxious people made a beeline for banks and post offices on Thursday to exchange scrapped currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 with the newer notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2000. Thousands were queued up for hours armed with the notes and identity papers since morning before the opening of banks and post offices on Thursday across Delhi and in other major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik, Kolhapur.
While many requisite slips have been filled in advance with attached identity papers, others are running around in panic to get photocopies and even there they encountered more long queues, before they could exchange the demonetized currency. Many private and public sector bank branches were found jammed with customers. While, some were seen to be resorted to admitting groups of five to 10 people at a time. Situation became worse when air conditioners stopped working due to the heavy load.
Similar situation has been seen at various ATM’s which also opened up first time since Tuesday night as people rushed to withdraw the permitted amounts for their daily routine expenses. However, there is no independent confirmation, television reports quoted customers complaining about some branches and ATMs those have already exhausted their cash stocks within the first couple of hours after they opened for the day.
It is almost equivalent to winning a war, many of the early birds who managed to withdraw the brand new Rs 500-Rs 2,000 notes clicked their selfies and proudly uploaded them on various social media channels. But the battle has just begun, it will arise fresh problems as people could not get them changed due to virtual absence of Rs 100 and Rs 50 and other lower denomination notes in the markets.
Basic activities of trade and commerce, done on the regular basis such as kirana shops, saloons, multiplexes, malls and others had come to a standstill on Wednesday in the near total absence of customers. Only those who are having credit or debit cards turned up to shops and to those outlets only which are accepting credit and debit cards but all others dealing in daily cash transactions including cabbies, got a big hit.
All the banks were directed to work for 12 hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to clear the jam of desperate customers for banking transactions, and if required, it’ll be remained open for next Sunday (November 20). The situation on the roads witnessed a bit normal since Wednesday evening after both Maharashtra and central governments announced a waiver of toll taxes on all highways till November 11 midnight. Yet, customers were resorted to panic purchases of petrol stocks, railway or air tickets to offload their existing stocks of the demonetized notes.