New Delhi: Amid unending queues of cash-starved citizens at banks and relentless attacks by the opposition, the government on Sunday announced an increase in withdrawal limits at banks and ATMs.
The Centre also urged the states to “facilitate the opening of new bank accounts” and last-mile distribution of small denomination notes as it announced that the new Rs 500 note had been issued. The daily withdrawal from ATMs has now been hiked to Rs 2,500 from Rs 2,000 and from bank counters to Rs 4,500 from Rs 4,000, the Finance Ministry said.
The limit of Rs 10,000 per day withdrawal has been removed, the ministry said in statement here. The upper limit for weekly withdrawals from bank accounts has been raised to Rs 24,000 from Rs 20,000.
Following a review meeting, the Ministry decisions came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to India from Japan and made an impassioned plea to the citizens while addressing public meetings in Maharashtra and Goa. He sought 50 days’ time until December 30 to tide over the cash crisis and weed out the ill-gotten wealth in the country’s economy.
Lakhs of people have virtually mobbed banks and ATMs all over the country since Thursday when the banks opened after a day’s closure, following Modi’s dramatic November 8 night announcement to spike Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Banks have also been told to cater separately to senior citizens and the handicapped.
Under attack from regional satraps and Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, the Centre on Sunday also appealed to state governments to make the scheme successful and extend the currency reach to the rural and remote areas.
The state governments have been requested to facilitate opening of new bank accounts as part of financial inclusion programme.
“The Chief Secretaries of states have been requested to identify the rural pockets, if any, where availability of cash has been a problem and provide all support to the banks and post offices in order to ensure last-mile distribution of small denomination notes through mobile banking vans and banking correspondents,” it said. The ministry urged the people to lodge complaints with the District Magistrates and district administrations if hospitals, caterers and tent houses refused to accept cheques, demand drafts and online payment transfer.
It said that from November 10 (when the banks reopened) till 5 p.m. on November 13, about Rs 3 lakh crore of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes had been deposited in the banking system. Within these four days, the banking system has handled about 18 crore transactions. About Rs 50,000 crore had been disbursed to customers through account withdrawals or from ATMs or by exchange of old notes.
The statement said that various state governments have made elaborate arrangements to help the banks and post offices discharge their duties and dispense currencies.
The Assam government has arranged mobile banking vans with the support of banks and state government staff at certain hospitals for carrying out emergency transactions, it said.
The statement said that in the remote northeastern Arunachal Pradesh, special arrangements like cash deposits or withdrawal and opening of new bank accounts have been made with the help of banks and state government staff.