Banks and state treasuries in Kerala are witnessing heavy rush since morning with people queuing up to withdraw salaries and pensions. State Finance Minister Thomas Issac said 42 treasuries in rural areas have not received any cash till 11.30 AM. The government had asked RBI to release Rs 153 crore for distribution of salaries and pension through the 222 treasuries in the state, but had received only Rs 75 crore till noon, he said adding treasuries in the urban areas were not facing much of a problem.
RBI had on Wednesday assured the state that Rs 1000 crore would be released for paying salaries and pension through banks. However, till noon only Rs 500 crore had been released, the Minister said. In the state treasuries at the state capital, aged men and women could be seen waiting patiently for the treasury to open. An elderly woman, who had come to collect her pension, said she had come early to get her monthly pension of Rs 10,000.
“I have to get my pension on Thursday, out of which Rs 7000 has to be paid as house rent”, she said. Another pensioner, who reached the treasury at 4 AM, said they were solely dependent on pension for daily needs. “All the earnings have been distributed to our children. Now we have only our meagre pension to fall back upon”, she said wondering if they would be lucky enough to get their pension Thursday, the first day of the salary after the Centre scrapped Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes last month. State treasuries would be open till 6 PM Thursday.
Anticipating the heavy rush, Treasury Director had on Wednesday sought police protection for treasuries. Issac, who visited some treasuries, said there was severe currency shortage. In Nedumangad in the outskirts of Thiruvananthapauram, since there was cash shortage, only Rs 5,000 was being distributed per person.
The Centre should release the balance amount on Thursday itself, he added. No untoward incidents have been reported from any parts of the state so far, he said. As people are panicky, they have been queueing up right from early morning to withdraw their salaries and pension, he said. About Rs 3000 crore is needed every month to disburse salaries to government servants and pensioners in Kerala. The strength of salaried employees and pensioners in the state is five lakh each.