City banks and ATMs witnessed serpentine queues and confusion for the second consecutive day as people attempted to procure usable notes following the Centre’s demonetisation announcement. Banks and ATMs ran dry of money as public thronged to withdraw cash.
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Inspite of orders from the Centre that banks should work overtime on the weekend many had to down their shutters owing to currency shortage.
At the Bhat Bazar branch of Dena Bank, residents — waiting in line since morning — were outraged after the bank ran out of money at 4 pm.
Those waiting had numerous complaints. Many daily wage labourers went without work for a day to queue up but never made it to the front of the line.
Waqarunnisa Ansari, Municipal Councillor of the area, said: “We are almost facing a law and order situation. No police were deployed to maintain order at the bank premises. Women who had left their children and household chores aside for the day not only had to stand here for hours, but also dealt with lewd behaviour and groping at the hands of those taking advantage of the crowd.”
To prevent people from barging in, those who had already received their notes were locked inside the bank for hours even after their currency was exchanged, which added to the crowd.
People also complained about the new Rs 2,000 notes. Niyaz A Path, who runs a spice store in Dongri, says: “People are constantly coming and trying to pay with the new Rs 2,000 notes. Where is the change for this amount going to come from when all of us are short of cash?”
South Mumbai banks also reported similar crowds. While many from lower income groups had to face the elements as they waited to withdraw money, banks in Bandra and Andheri provided seating arrangements for the customers.
Many branches had put out seats outside for senior citizens and women, who are also being given a priority in being tended to early. Tokens are being given out to those who did not reach the front of the line so they can be served first the next day.
Banks are trying different means to help people. One bank had also installed a mobile ATM van at Worli.
According to Kishor Kadam, senior manager at Dongri branch of Dena Bank, “We will fill up the ATM once our money supply for exchanging is exhausted for the day so that those waiting will not have to leave without any cash.”