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Demonetisation effect: Long weekend plays spoiler for Pune bank staffers, customers alike

With Banks shut for three days Pune sees serpentine queues and cashless ATMs on Tuesday

By: Express News Service | Pune |
December 14, 2016 3:40:27 am
Demonetisation, latest news, India news, Pune news, Maharashtra news, National news People were seen waiting for hours to withdraw cash in front of an ATM of Bank of Maharashtra, Shivajinagar branch, on Tuesday. Pameli Dey

AFTER the three-day weekend, when the banks opened, what followed was what the city has been witnessing since November 8 — serpentine queues that spilled over to the roads and people thronging the branches to withdraw money. The misery of residents continued as banks continued to ration the withdrawal limit much below the one set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) citing serious liquidity concerns.

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A majority of ATMs in Pune remained dry on Tuesday as banks said that due to cash crunch they couldn’t load the cash into ATMs saving it for over-the-counter disbursal to their own customers.

In Pimpri-Chinchwad, several ATMs were cashless and shutters were down, inconveniencing the residents.

Last weekend, which was extended by a day due to a government holiday on Monday for Eid-E-Milad had resulted in closure of banks for three consecutive days. During this period, most of the ATMs too remained shut as banks complained that they had run out of cash due and hence, couldn’t refill the ATMs.

Even on Tuesday when the banks opened, the ATMs remained dry and people had no option but to queue up before the bank branches. Few ATMs could be seen working where hundreds of people had lined up hoping to withdraw cash.

In the banks too, customers were being given much less than the daily withdrawal limit set by the RBI.

Akash Agarwal, who had to wait for one-and-a-half hours to withdraw money from Bank of India branch on Shirole Road, said that he was given Rs 5,000 although he had sought more.

Vinod Kumar Yadav, hailing from Allahabad, who wanted to deposit money, said that after waiting in a queue for long he was turned away by Bank of Baroda on J M Road, saying that he can deposit funds using old notes only in the ‘home branch’.

“I have only these notes and my son is being sent home every day by the school for not paying the fee. I don’t know what to do now?” said Yadav.

Mangala Tadvi, a domestic servant who was standing in the queue outside a bank on Pashan-Sus Road, said, “This has been the worst month. The five houses I work are yet to pay me my full salary, as they too do not have cash. I have to stand in the queue at the time when I am supposed to work. I am yet to pay my rent and my other expenses. Twice it has happened that suddenly the bank officials say that the cash is over and we have to come back after wasting so much time in the queue.”

Nandkishor Umbarje, a senior citizen from Bavdhan, said, “I am a retired man and I have time to stand in the queue. But I can imagine the plight of working people who have to stand in lines for a long time.”

Most of the branches on Sinhagad road area continued to witness long queues of account holders to withdraw money. At a few branches, the withdrawal has been kept to Rs 2,000 per account holder. Residents were seen arguing with the bank staff for allowing very less withdrawal amount. “I cannot stand in queue every day to withdraw cash from my account to meet the expenditure. The bank officers think that we don’t have anything else to do so we stand in a queue. They are giving very less amount now but if they increased the amount then the rush would reduce,” said Kailash Thorat of Hingne Khurd.

The bank staff expressed helplessness saying the past experience has been bad as less people were getting cash and most of them being turned away due to branches running out of cash. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, bank customers spent more than two hours to withdraw cash. Rosy, a housewife, said she had come to withdraw Rs 4,000 around 12 noon at Bank of Maharashtra Kasarwad branch, expecting that the rush would be less. “I had to stand for two hours in the queue. Even after I left, there were customers in the bank,” she said.

Shridhar Chalkha, a resident of Sambhajinagar, said there was a huge rush at ICICI, HDFC, Axis Bank and Seva Vikas Bank branches in Chinchwad and surrounding areas. “When I asked a few bank officials, they said the situation would not change even after December 30,” he said. Chalkha said the banks have also stopped opening new accounts. Raja Sawant, a resident of Pimpri said, the situation continues to be same at private and national banks.

Meanwhile, bank officials claimed that despite expecting cash arrival on Tuesday, they received much less than what they had demanded.

Brij Mohan Sharma, Zonal Head (Pune), IDBI Bank, said, “We are yet to get any cash from RBI this week. Our men are there and will get the cash but it is a long procedure and takes time. Meanwhile, we managed to meet our needs from the cash that we received in the form of deposits from our corporate clients. Although we didn’t run out of cash at the branches, we couldn’t load any cash in the ATMs,” said Sharma.

Mukund Abhyankar, group chairman, Cosmos Bank said that they continued to ration the cash as what they received from the RBI was much less than the demand.

“We were giving up to Rs 3,000 per person as there was cash shortage. It was impossible to fill up the ATMs. Whatever cash we had, we used it for over-the-counter disbursement,” said Abhyankar.

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