THE FIRST day of the month saw most ATMs across Kolkata either with their shutters down or displaying ‘no cash’ notices. The ATMs which did dispense cash, saw long queues of people, most of whose salary had been credited to their accounts Thursday. “I have been waiting for about 30 minutes. I have no cash at home and have to withdraw money at the cost of being late to office,” said Girish Biswas, a private firm employee, who was in the queue of an ATM at Dhakuria in south Kolkata. He said his wife would try to withdraw some cash while returning from office in the evening. The scenario was worse at the Central Business District or Dalhousie Square area in Kolkata.
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“I have been waiting here for 15 minutes, and after looking at the queue, I think I will have to wait for at least half an hour before I get to the ATM,” said Hemanta Ghosh, in front of an ATM of United Bank of India — one of the few dispensing Rs 100 notes.
Retired school teacher Nimai Ranjan Bose (70), who was standing in line at a private bank on Christopher Road, said: “My son is a central government employee and hardly has any time to withdraw money from the bank or ATMs. By the time he returns from office, ATMs run out of cash. So, there is no other way but for me to try withdraw money.”
With most ATMs only dispensing Rs 2,000 notes, Metiaburz resident Zareen Buksh said: “To meet our domestic expenses, which cannot be paid through card or cheques, we need at least Rs 8,000. I have been making rounds of ATMs with my two cards. I have managed to withdraw Rs 8,000 in the last two days, but only in Rs 2000 notes. It is almost impossible to get change for Rs 2000.”
Meanwhile, the situation at ATMs and banks is likely to improve in a day or two, as new notes have started arriving from Salboni printing press in West Midnapore district, said sources.
On payday — Thursday — ATMs and banks saw a renewed surge of customers. To see that everybody gets cash, banks have rationed cash disbursement. “Today, new Rs 500 notes have arrived and tomorrow, they will be made available to ATMs brightening up the situation,” a source in ATM cash management company CMS said. He added that cash availability for ATMs of most banks is not adequate, and many remained dry in the last two to three days.
However, things are reportedly not so bad for State Bank of India.
A State Bank of India official said close to 2,700 ATMs remained functional out of 3,500 approximately.
“We have all denomination notes of Rs 100, Rs 500 (limited) and Rs 2,000 notes. We are trying to supply as far as possible,” the official said.