Kolkata: Festive Calcutta out on streets. For Bengalis, Durga Puja is more than just a festival, it wouldn’t be completely wrong to call it a five-day long carnival, preparation for which begins months in advance – from setting up pandals, preparing for various cultural activities like poetry recitation, singing, dancing, painting competitions to the simple joy of purchasing new clothes.
But, here is a bad news for the City. The city may run into a funds crisis in the middle of festivities with banks shutting down for six consecutive days from Wednesday on account of Durga Puja followed by a Sunday and Gandhi Jayanti. Although banks have assured seamless cash supply through ATMs, citizens are keeping their fingers crossed in view of last year’s bitter experience when a similar six-day bank closure had seen several ATMs run dry in the middle of Pujas.
According to banking industry insiders, ATM withdrawals in Kolkata and the suburbs tend to spike at the beginning of the festive season. Already this has led the ATM cash-dispensing pattern, a software-run algorithm that ensures cash is replenished before the machines run out of money, to sputter in isolated cases.
To beat the “temporary” crisis, SBI has already been allowed by the RBI to keep several of its 211 currency chests (RBI-monitored treasuries run by the banks) open on at least two of the six days. “We believe we will be able to replenish most ATMs in all the six days,” said a senior SBI official.
However, movement of cash vans across Kolkata on festival days takes longer than usual. It is high time people use debit card for all purchass above rs 500/ for smaller purchases , people can use cash. This will reduce the pressure on cash and ATMs.