Bengaluru: It was the turn of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) to run out of cash on Friday across this tech hub while banks struggled to meet the demand for new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes and lower denomination currencies in exchange of the old notes that were suddenly demonetised on Tuesday.
Within hours after the ATMs opened for collecting crispy notes two days after they were shut down on Wednesday, the security guards had downed the shutters as cash dried up, though each customer was entitled to draw up to Rs 2,000 only per card per day till November 18.
“When I rushed to a nearby ATM in our residential area to draw Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes up to Rs 2,000 with debit card, I was shocked to see about 100 customers in a long queue even at 7 a.m.,” recalled Nanje Gowda, a private firm employee. Though Gowda was lucky to get what he needed after waiting over an hour, many in the queue that turned serpentine by 9 a.m. were tensed as the ATM ran out of cash and shut till noon when it was replenished with fresh currency stock.
As thousands of men and women thronged the bank branches and post offices to exchange the old notes with new ones of any denomination, including Rs 20 and Rs 10 for the second consecutive day, hundreds having debit or credit cards went on rounds of residential and commercial areas to draw cash from ATMs.
“This is a man-made disaster. Though the government’s intention may be good and lofty to curb black money or fake (counterfeit) money, its execution is shoddy as thousands of ordinary customers are made to suffer for no fault of them, as the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and the banks have failed to assess the demand-supply gap,” a bank union general secretary A.N. Krishna Murthy said.
As the third largest city after Mumbai and New Delhi in the volume of cash transactions, about Rs 2,000 crore is in circulation daily in Bengaluru through 600 bank branches and about 2,000 ATMs in the city. “Many banks were not able to re-configure their ATMs for the new Rs 2,000 note, as they had just 48 hours to withdraw the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and replace them with new notes, including Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes. As a result, many ATMs could not be opened for withdrawals till afternoon,” admitted Murthy.
Blaming the RBI and banks for not doing home work and estimating the demand for new notes, including Rs 100 and Rs 50, G. Poornachandra Rao, a private insurance agent, told that the shortage was causing hardship to everyone, especially those who use only cash for their purchases or business.
“As banks are getting only 50 per cent of the cash they transact daily, with about 80 per cent of them in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, they are not able to meet the demand for new notes in exchange or give Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes in lieu of, as customers were not depositing them (Rs 100 and Rs 50) for circulating them to other customers,” claimed Rao after he failed to get the required denomination.
N. Jaya Lakshmi, a push-cart vegetable vendor, lamented that she got Rs 2,000 note in exchange for four Rs 500 old notes instead of Rs 100 or Rs 50, which she badly needed for her daily business after waiting in a queue for over two hours at a bank branch in the Shivajinagar area of the city centre.
“As I don’t have a bank account, I submitted a copy of my Aadhar card and asked for Rs 100 or Rs 50 notes. The cashier said he did not have even Rs 20 or Rs 10 notes to give at that time. I tried to exchange the new Rs 2,000 note with others but no one was willing to do,” a tearful Lakshmi said.