After waiting for two days to withdraw new currency notes from ATMs, following the Central government’s assurance that ATMs will be operational from Friday onwards, people in and around Mysuru had thought today would be the day they will have some cash in their pockets.
They woke up early as to avoid standing in long queues in front of ATMs, but, instead, ran from pillar to post only to find all the ATMs either shut or out of service.
This was the ‘frustrating’ experience everyone that City Today spoke to had to share. A few people, having left with no money for transportation and food, but worthless Rs 500, and Rs 1,000 notes, even had to skip work today.
“This must be for the first time in the history that people having cash had to cry looking at it,” quipped Ashok, a medical representative. He added that high denomination notes were demonetised in order to crack on black money. But, irony is that most of the rich, potential black money holders, were happy as if nothing had happened and it was poor who had to bear the brunt.
Non-availability of cash at the ATMs forced people to throng banks and join the never-ending queues to withdraw money from the banks or exchange their old notes. People were seen waiting for hours for their turn to come. Filing forms and other formalities for an exchange led to longer queues and patience running thin among people.
There was uncertainty among people on whether they will get cash at the banks due to the limited stock of new currency notes and Rs 100 denomination notes. “This is the second bank I am visiting today. The bank where I had queued up since morning turned down my application of currency exchange stating the cash is over. Here I am at a different bank, hoping I would get some cash,” said Nawaz, a fruit merchant at the Canara Bank at Nanjumalige Circle.
Many, especially the poor with no bank accounts, complained it was tough to get through the next few days with the cash restrictions. However, bank officials, persuaded such people to open saving accounts in their branches to deposit large amount.
People have until December 30 to deposit or exchange their old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes for smaller bills or the new Rs 2000 note that is expected to make counterfeiting harder. People are allowed to make a one-time exchange of Rs 4,000 in cash and one-time account withdrawals of Rs 10,000, capped at Rs 20,000 per week. There is no limit on amounts that can be deposited.
However, after a long struggle to exchange their money, people were seen happy flaunting new Rs 2,000 notes and taking selfies with notes. “I had shut my shop and waited for almost two hours. Finally I got Rs 4,000 exchanged,” said Syed Shoib, and waved the new Rs 2,000 note.
Commenting on huge rush that banks were facing, bank officials say that it would take a week for the banks and ATMs to work normally. With huge rush and limited stock of new currency notes and old Rs 100 notes, it was difficult to manage both banks and ATMs. They, however, said that people can withdraw money from ATMs from today evening or tomorrow morning as the officials were busy in clearing the rush at the banks.
-By Mujahid Deputy