As tempers rise in TN, banks alert security

According to a top SBI official, RBI failed to keep its promise of remittance of Rs 500 crore worth of currency (Rs 100 denomination) on Saturday.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published:November 13, 2016 1:50 am
demonetisation, Rs 500 note, Rs 1000 note, Rs 2000 note, arun jaitley, demonetisation process, ATMs, narendra modi, indian express, india news People queue up outside an ATM. (PTI Photo, representational image)

With the currency crisis getting worse in Tamil Nadu, major bank branches including the State Bank of India (SBI) have started alerting security agencies on the law and order situation in its branches across the state. Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) failed to remit the cash they had promised on Saturday.

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According to a top SBI official, RBI failed to keep its promise of remittance of Rs 500 crore worth of currency (Rs 100 denomination) on Saturday. “We are running on soiled (dirty and damaged) notes now,” said the SBI official. He said if the crisis continued, people could turn violent as tempers were already rising in the branches.

“It looks like hardly anyone at the top has realised the situation on the ground. Due to shortage of currency, we are managing the cash left in our currency chest and moving it to the most demanding chests that already facing shortage,” said the official.

“People will ransack our branches if the RBI fails to supply for the next two days,” said a senior bank official, adding that the current police protection wouldn’t be sufficient if the situation doesn’t improve. According to the office of the SBI’s Chief General Manager, there were dozens of incidents reported on Friday and Saturday of people shouting at bank staff over currency shortage, long delays and getting Rs 2,000 notes.

When contacted, a senior RBI official admitted that a crisis was emerging. “We are facing problems of shortage of supply and lack of coordination. Tamil Nadu and southern states are short of currency supply, unlike states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, and services through India Post remain insufficient,” he said.

Asked about the RBI failing to remit the promised currency (worth Rs 500 crore on Saturday), the official said there were some 30 banks waiting in queue. He refused to reveal the actual status of currency currently available for remittance in the next two days.

Meanwhile, public institutions like city corporations have announced they will accept tax payments in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations. A senior official at Coimbatore corporation said they had collected Rs 11 crore as property and water tax on Friday, and some advance payments too. “That was a record collection as the total collection of the same from January 2016 was less than Rs 8.5 crore,” he said.

Coimbatore Police has decided to stop spot fines for road violations, except for drunk driving. “We have asked our officers to help the public fill up bank forms,” said a top officer.

The cash crisis has affected the Tamil film industry, with two high-profile movies postponing their release dates and more than a dozen film shootings stalled or scaled down. Vegetable sales too have plummeted in Chennai as traders could not accept invalid currency notes or Rs 2,000 denominations.