New Delhi: Banks and ATMs on Saturday witnessed more chaos and even longer queues as tens of thousands of cash-starved people jostled to exchange and withdraw money, even as cash dispensing machines went dry soon after they were stocked due to heavy rush.
Long serpentine queues were witnessed at bank branches for the third straight day across the country. Similarly, people were seen impatiently waiting outside ATMs to withdraw money.
People including elderly and women in large numbers were queueing up to get the valid currency notes needed to meet their daily expenses.
Many ATMs, which reopened four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of two higher value currency notes, ran out of cash in few hours, leaving people frustrated.
To add to the misery still half of the ATMs are non-functional, making people agitated about the lack of infrastructure preparedness for the note exchange programme. There are about 2 lakh ATMs across the country.
The endless wait to get valid currency notes are taking toll on people waiting for hours in long queues as there were reports of many elderly people collapsing.
According to bankers, the situation is unlikely to change for some more time, may be another 8-10 days. Some large banks like SBI have asked their branches to re-hire retired employees for a few weeks. Demand is expected to ease after banks recalibrate the ATMs to dispense the new 2,000 notes. Banks like Kotak are telling customers seeking to make bulk deposits to come only after making appointments, while ICICI Bank has hiked the daily purchase limit of customers’ debit cards. All banks are waiving ATM and cash deposit-related charges.
Taking into consideration, problems faced by people, the government on Friday extended use of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for paying household utility bills, fuel, taxes and fees as well as purchases from co-operative stores by another 72 hours till November 14.