Reeling under shortage of currency stock, banks across the country have resorted to rationing of cash in order to handle the huge payday rush at branches. Although claims were made by various banks that adequate arrangement would be in place to tide over the cash crisis on payday, branches are seen rationing cash depending on their currency stock position.
Some banks are disbursing only Rs 5,000 per person while those having better cash availability are offering Rs 10,000 or Rs 12,000 per withdrawal. Making matters worse, a large number of ATMs are still dry despite recalibration of nearly 80 percent of ATMs, while people are struggling with the problem of change as the operational ones dispense mostly high denomination Rs 2,000 notes.
The news updates of day 23 show how people across India queued up in large numbers outside banks and ATMs to withdraw cash from their first salary received after the 8 November demonetisation.
People wait for cash in Delhi
Long queues were witnessed outside most banks and functioning ATMs across the capital, residents said. At Lakshmi Nagar in east Delhi, hundreds queued up outside the only three ATMs that were dispensing cash. In Dilshad Garden, also in east Delhi, most ATMs were dry. There was a huge rush outside five banks in the locality. At an ATM in Khirki extension in south Delhi, people queued up outside banks much before they opened. "I have to pay my landlord, maid, newspaper guy and many others. I am not sure I will get cash as this ATM works only for an hour after it is refilled," Nandini Gupta, a call centre employee waiting outside a Khirki extension ATM, said.
The scene was no different outside the ATMs in Connaught Place in the heart of the city. A resident of Noida near Delhi, Shiv Kumar, even queued up outside the ICICI Bank in Sector 18 hours before it opened.
Long queues at banks in Kolkata
Young working professionals to pensioners, a large number of people queued up at banks long before the start of banking operations on Thursday morning, the first payday after demonetisation.
A number of ATMs in Kolkata — in the city and suburbs — displayed "No Cash" notice while the functional ones mostly dispensed Rs 2,000 notes. Queues at banks in the city were relatively longer as many people wished to withdraw the maximum amount permitted to avoid a cash crunch over the next few days.
Representational images. PTI
Cash shortage in Telangna, Andhra
The queues turned longer as people lined up as early as at 6 am at banks to draw the money to meet their financial commitments on the first day of the month. Employees of private firms including IT companies, pensioners, housewives, traders, students and daily wage earners all had the same complaint — low cash or no cash in banks.
Majority of the banks allowed customers to draw only Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000. The situation was worse at ATMs, with almost all of them closed. A few, which opened in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and other major towns, soon went dry. The new Rs 500 note is yet to reach the banks in the two states.
The Telangna government has asked nationalised banks to open special counters for employees and pensioners to pay cash. It also directed them to work extra hours to meet the demand.
Salary Day in Kerala
State Finance Minister Thomas Issac had said there was no issue as far as the government was considered in paying the one million-plus people their salaries and pensions. He had expected Rs 1,000 crore to arrive at the state treasury on Thursday, while the banks were also expected to get around Rs 1,200 crore.
However, serpentine queues were seen in front of state treasuries and banks (ATMs saw less of a crowd) across Kerala on Thursday. With ATMs having a ceiling of Rs 2,500, the withdrawal limit in treasuries and banks has been fixed at Rs 24,000 a week, and hence, there was less of a rush at ATMs. In Kerala's commercial capital Kochi, the scene was much the same with people — mostly pensioners — queuing up before the treasuries and banks.
As a matter of abundant caution, additional police force was deployed in front of several banks and treasuries across the state.
No mayhem in Tripura
The crowds at banks and ATMs in Tripura on Thursday, the first salary day after demonetisation, was not as massive as feared by many. In Mizoram, the first consignment of new Rs 500 currency notes along with Rs 100 notes arrived two days back, easing the cash crunch somewhat.
Bank officials in Agartala said a large number of employees withdrew some money in advance from their accounts fearing a huge rush on the first of December. However, the cash crunch continues to be serious in semi-urban, remote and rural areas of Northeast India where most banks do not have adequate currency or where ATMs lack notes of various denomination.