ATMs in Gujarat go into ‘siesta’

Banks too run out of cash even as people continue to wait in long queues

Written by Nihali Shah | Ahmedabad | Published:November 12, 2016 5:25 am
gujarat-bank-759 Elderly outside a bank in Vadodara on Friday. Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana

Many ATMs ran out of cash and some banks in the city and other parts of Gujarat closed their teller counters by Friday afternoon as queues to withdraw money grew longer, days after the Centre decided to demonetise Rs 1000 and old Rs 500 notes.

The Central Bank of India’s branch in the commercial part of Mithakhali closed its ATM at noon. Its chief manager Anshuman Singh told The Indian Express: “We opened at 9.30 am and had to close down because whatever money we had we gave it for exchange. People should not panic because the money will come by the evening.”

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Tapan Trivedi, 21, a student at Gujarat University, said there were at least seven ATMs in Akhbarnagar area, all of which were closed by the afternoon. “All ATMs in a row, like that of Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC and AXIS, were closed. I only have notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.”

Some foreign students studying at GU too struggled for their daily expenses. “I went to exchange the money to SBI’s Gujarat University branch and waited for more than three hours, only to be told that there was no money in the ATM. We then went to Ambawadi branch of SBI where I waited for an hour and a half before I could withdraw Rs 2000 . It is a bad memory for us,” said 22-year-old Shahirulla Wahidi, a student from Afghanistan.

Another Afghan student Benafsha Bahar, 28, who managed to withdraw some cash, said she had run out of groceries two days ago. “We had to wait for two hours to get the cash from an SBI ATM… We faced a little inconvenience, but I am sure something will come out of such a great decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Manager of IndusInd Bank’s Bodakdev branch Vinod Mulchandani said his bank closed the ATM for want of cash. “We are accepting the deposits, but withdrawl of money is quite a difficult situation because whatever we had, we gave out. We are expecting more cash to come by evening to the ATM”.

Manubhai Mori, manager of an Ahmedabad District Co-operative Bank branch said, “ It’s simply not our fault that the citizens have to suffer from inconvenience regarding money. The Reserve Bank of India has still not given the money for ATM. People will have to wait till about 5 pm. Whatever new currency we had, we gave out”.

People like Spandan Christian took time from his job to stand in the queue to withdraw money. “I went to Axis Bank’s Asarwa branch to withdraw money, but the security guard told me that there was no cash in the ATM. So, I went to Shahibaug but that ATM was also closed. None of the ATMs I went to had money. Morereover, there were long queues for exchanging money.”