AFTER being closed for two days, some of the ATMs in Pune opened on Saturday, but were drained of cash within hours. While the banks claimed they refilled the ATMs twice a day, that still wasn’t enough to cope with the heavy rush of customers . Since the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, people have been queuing up outside banks and post offices to exchange their old notes. After they remained non-functional for two days, about 5 per cent of the ATMs opened on Friday, and some more ATMs started working the day after.
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Brij Mohan Sharma, chief general manager and zonal head, Pune, of IDBI Bank, said all 56 ATMs of the bank were loaded with cash in the morning, but they soon ran dry. “Many non-customers also used our ATMs,” he said.
Sharma said the ATMs were loaded twice a day and they would be loaded again on Sunday morning. “The Reserve Bank of India has issued ample cash and we will be replenishing our ATMs as and when necessary,” he said.
Long queues were also seen outside Bank of Maharashtra’s ATMs. Rajkiran Bhoir, general manager, resource planning, said the high number of withdrawals was the reason behind the machines running out of cash. “We fill up the ATMs twice a day but they are running out of cash fast,” he said.
Other then the currency crunch, rumours about delayed re-calibration of ATMs has also sparked fear and a sense of uncertainty.
Kiran Satale, a digital media professional, said he had visited four ATMs to withdraw money. “The long queues outside banks had forced me to go to the ATMs, but I had to look around to find one which had any cash,” he said. Meanwhile, scenes across banks and ATM booths in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad continued to be chaotic on Saturday, as people queued up for hours and in most cases, returned empty-handed.
Namita Gupta, who works in a real estate firm at Senapati Bapat Road, said she had to take a day off to withdraw money from the ATM. “I had no money to even go to the office… so I took a day off to go to the bank. At 9 am, I went to the ATM and there was already a long queue. After waiting for an hour, the security guard came out and said the machine was out of cash. I went back home and got my cheque book and again stood in a queue outside the bank. I finally managed to withdraw some money at 2 pm,” she said.
Manish Dave, who owns a printing business, said he left his house with the cheque books of multiple banks in which he had accounts. “I thought that I will go to a bank which had a shorter queue, but the situation was maddening everywhere… My business has come to a standstill as I am busy running around,” he said.
Making a quick buck
In some areas, local residents said they have been offered Rs 100 notes in exchange of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, but they had to pay a “commission charge”.
“Since the last two days, I have been going out at regular intervals to check the ATM booths, but could not find one that was working. The queues to withdraw cash were so long, it’s not possible for the mother of a two-year-old to wait in that queue. My domestic help saw all this and today she offered me change in exchange of a Rs 1,000 note. Her condition was that she would give me only Rs 900. She said she will deposit the Rs 1,000 later as she had no immediate need for it,” said a woman.
Another way to make a quick buck is to exchange foreign currency in exchange for old notes, at a higher rate. A resident of Law College Road said an acquaintance of hers was offering foreign currency at a higher rate than the market rate. “They have recently returned from an international holiday and have it in surplus, so they thought it would be a good time to sell it off,” she said.
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