Pay day pandemonium: Long queues, dry ATMs, teary eyes

Several banks were forced to “ration” the cash amount to ensure there was enough money to disburse to the many customers.

By: Express News Service | Pune | Published:December 2, 2016 12:02 am
pune-bank-759 Hundreds of people wait for their turn in a serpentine queue outside a Bank of India branch in East Street on Thursday. Express Photo by Arul Horizon

On the first salary day after demonetisation, banks across Pune received only 40 per cent of the cash needed for disbursement, leading to a pandemonium-like situation in almost all branches, where bank employees struggled to meet the demands of thousands of people who had queued up since morning to withdraw cash.

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For days, both commercial and cooperative banks in Pune have been complaining about the failure of the RBI to disburse cash. These banks had also urged the central bank to send additional cash to meet the enhanced demand on salary day, but most banks maintained that no extra cash was received from the RBI. On Thursday, many banks decided not to load money in ATMs so that branches would have more cash to disburse.

Acknowledging the cash crunch, District Collector Sourabh Rao said while as much as Rs 2,400 crore was needed to meet the demand in Pune, only Rs 900 crore had arrived in the city. “We have set up a special committee headed by the collector, who will look into the disbursement of cash to banks,” he said. Rao assured that rural branches would also receive adequate amount of cash.

Brij Mohan Sharma, chief general manager and zonal head of IDBI, said the bank had “just about” managed to meet the demands of its customers.

However, the cooperative banks were the worst hit, as many of them have not received any cash from the RBI for days. Arvind Khalatkar, chairman of Janata Sahakari (Cooperative) Bank, said, “We have thousands of salary accounts in our bank and most of them belong to school teachers. On one hand, the RBI is saying there is no cash crunch, but it fails to distribute cash to us… this issue should be addressed,” he said.

Mukund Abhyankar, group chairman of Cosmos Bank, also complained about the shortage of cash, saying the bank had received only Rs 25 crore from the RBI.

Meanwhile, many people who had been standing in the queue since morning were forced to return empty-handed. Goraksh Awale, 29, who visited Cosmos Bank’s Model Colony branch, said he was told, after spending an hour in the queue, that the bank had run out of cash.

Many of the Puneites staying on rent are facing another hurdle, as their landlord has been demanding the rent in cash. “… I have failed to withdraw any money. I have stood in an ATM queue and have also visited the bank several times,” said Deepak Borawake, a student of political science.

Several banks were forced to “ration” the cash amount to ensure there was enough money to disburse to the many customers.

The Karve Road branch of Janata Sahkari Bank was disbursing Rs 4,500 per person while the Bank of India branch on F C Road set the limit at Rs 4,000 per customer.