A 73-year-old man collapsed and died in a queue before a bank as cash-strapped people in the country’s financial capital and suburbs rushed to the ATM counters today to withdraw some money to meet their daily expenses. Vishwanath Vartak, who was standing in the queue before an SBI branch for exchanging currency, collapsed and died on the spot at Navghar in Mulund in eastern suburbs, police said. Vartak had been standing for hours in the queue to exchange Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denomination notes. Though he was rushed to hospital by some people who saw him collapse, he was declared dead before admission, police said. Running out of money for the last two days, men and women had thronged the ATMs since early morning while in many places, to their disappointment, they found the machines not working.
ATMs of various banks in south Mumbai, Lalbaugh, Parel, Dadar, Andheri, Ghatkopar and Mulund were found to be out of service and not dispensing money, forcing people to return empty-handed. Ajeet Singh, a media professional, said when he went to an ATM in suburban Andheri, he found it closed and was told by a bank executive to come after an hour or two. “When I went to exchange demonetised notes with new ones, I was told that the bank has not received the money yet and it would start exchanging it at 4 pm only,” he said.
After finding some ATMs in the megacity not dispensing cash, Charles Asirvatham, an executive of a Malaysia-based
company, took the twitter route to express his anguish. Sanjay Dubey, working with a garment outlet, said, “I
approached an ATM in suburban Kalyan around 8.30 AM but it was shut. I hope government would take some corrective measures soon.”
Claiming an SBI ATM to be non-functional, Gurudath Naik said he had complained about it to the bank’s chairperson. Despite the chaos, country’s largest public sector lender SBI said in statement: “29,176 ATMs of State Bank of India (SBI) are up and functioning, rest are expected to be operational by tomorrow.”
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The SBI group, which includes associate banks, have an ATM network of 55,000 across the country. Naresh Kadam, working in a pharmaceutical company, said he lined up before a new generation bank at 5.30 in the morning only to be greeted by a board after hours saying ‘ATM out of service due to technical reasons’.
Narrating his vow, a senior citizen in Vikhroli said, “We thought of having some relief as banks were all set to
open their ATMs today morning. But see what’s happening here. Even bank officials do not bother to make separate
arrangements for the senior citizens. Who will listen to us.”