Of the many people who struggled to get cash on the first payday since demonetisation, senior citizens and pensioners were the worst affected. They were forced to wait for long hours at the bank, and some of them were turned back due to lack of adequate cash.
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Similar scenes were witnessed at almost every bank branch, where retired employees of public or private firms, who are dependent on their pension to pay for monthly expenses, turned up early in the morning but ended up waiting for several hours in long queues. While some banks did have separate queues for senior citizens, they still had to wait a long time to get to the cash counters.
“The rush is expected as very few ATMs are functional. Also, a major section of the pensioners are not very well-versed with ATM withdrawals and prefer to visit banks to withdraw money. We had rationed the funds due to the short supply of cash. We have asked them to come back next week,” said the assistant manager of a Camp-based public bank.
“I went from one ATM to the other, but none of them were working. So I finally decided to visit my branch to withdraw some money. I had to wait for two-and-a-half hours and I finally managed to get Rs 4,000 in cash,” said Sulabha Bhave, 76, a resident of Bhosale Nagar. She added that she almost missed the post-lunch medication for hypertension she takes every day.
At Dhankavadi branch of Bank of Maharashtra, pensioners complained that even if they had to undertake a transaction that had nothing to do with cash, they still had to wait for an hour just to go inside the branch. “I had gone to the branch with three friends to submit my life certificate, but the guard wouldn’t even allow us inside. We waited in the queue for an hour and finally managed to get in,” said another pensioner.