New Delhi, December 1: Chaos and Mayhem are the two words to describe the first pay day after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 9.
On Decemeber 1 people thronged banks since morning, queues at ATMs became longer, cash ran out even more rapidly and banks had to resort to police protection as customers started losing their patience at many places.
Although RBI had said that it had appreciated the supply of Rs 500 by 25 %, the supply was too short to meet the payday reimbursements and banks used cash rationing to meet maximum customers. The official also said it will take three weeks to meet the shortage and situation will improve there on.
A banker on keeping up the anonymity said, “We have no alternative but cash rationing as there just isn’t enough cash going around.”
Reportedly the State Bank of India struggling from cash shortage capped withdrawals at Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 in its different branches on Wednesday.
A large number of people queued up at banks long before the start of banking operations on Thursday morning. From young professionals to pension seekers, all rushed to banks and ATMs since morning.
Queues at banks in the city were relatively longer as many people wished to withdraw the maximum amount permitted to avoid a cash crunch running in their families over the next few days.
“Withdrawal at ATM is limited. I need bigger amount to run my family expenses. That’s why I am planning to withdraw Rs 24, 000 from the bank,” said a man standing in a queue at a nationalised bank.
Many people preferred to take a day off to draw money from the bank.
While the other one at the ATM said, “Our bank accounts are refilled but our pockets are mostly empty. Let’s see if we have some luck.”
Making matters worse, a large number of ATMs are still dry even 24 days after the government scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee notes earlier this month to crack down on black money.
Even on the 23rd day of demonetisation banks and ATMs continued to disappoint people. Despite recalibration claims and efforts by Modi government, nearly 80 per cent of ATMs do not have cash.
A number of ATMs in the city and suburbs displayed ‘No Cash’ notice all across the country on Wednesday. And the functional ones kept dispensing Rs 2,000 currency notes which is good for nothing in wake of shortage of Rs 500 and other smaller currency notes. Rs 2000 is sparingly used for high purchases only.
As banks failed to meet the customer’s demand for cash on the first payday people in a state-run bank in Uttar Pradesh damaged furniture. Similar news about public outburst over currency crunch emerged from other places too.
Earlier Bank unions had warned authorities and said that there is going to be “much more tension because a huge number of employees, workers and pensioners would throng bank branches to draw from their salary credit and non-availability of enough cash may lead to serious issues of law and order”.
They had also sought formal intervention of the Indian Banks’ Association to advise banks to ask for police protection in branches to provide proper security to their staff. The All India Bank Employees’ Association has said that the “situation is getting out of hand”.
On Thurday, after the reports of aggression at the bank premises spread, police guarded banks and cash dispensing machines in many places.
In another similar incident, customers barged at Allahabad Bank branch in Meerut due to unavailability of cash confirmed police. The angry customers broke the glass panes at the cash counter informed bank manager Harendra Singh to media.
Reportedly people blocked roads and staged demonstrations in Bijnore, Hapur, Moradabad, Amroha, Baghpat, Bulandshahr and Saharanpur at Wednesday night.
Even yesterday angry customers at a few branches in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, locked up bank staff.
How Indians are coping with demonetisation and cash crunch?
- Many private companies declared a day off to their employees on Thursday so as to enable them withdraw cash.
- Some software giants like Infosys, are deploying mini ATMs in offices.
- SIP from Meerut Alok Priyadarshi informed media that they have asked bank managers to put up signboards displaying the amount of cash received and an estimated number of customers they can meet.
- A housewife in the capital told that she has started offering her maid groceries instead of paying the Rs 500
- While many real estate and construction companies are actively helping their wagers open bank accounts.
For the next ten pay days, the chaos and cash shortage at banks and ATMs may not improve till the time government could pace up the supply of new cash bills to the banks. People have already been compromising their needs from past 23 days and with the deadline of using old Rs 500 closing tomorrow the cash crunch can certainly make the situation “out of the order.”