There was no respite for cash-starved people queuing up outside banks and ATMs today, with branches witnessing unprecedented rush since early morning. Due to bank closure tomorrow in some parts of the country, distressed people are thronging branches since most of the ATMs are out of cash.
Much to people’s dismay, only 60 per cent of ATMs got valid currency feed five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced surprise demonetisation of two higher value currency notes. Even these 1.2 lakh ATMs (out of total 2 lakh) are running out of cash in few hours, leaving people frustrated.
Accepting that the common man is being inconvenienced, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday said it may still take up to three weeks for ATMs to start functioning normally.
“ATMs could not have been calibrated (before the demonetisation announcement) because of secrecy issue. Thousands of people are involved in recalibration exercise (and) secrecy could not have been maintained. Recalibration takes at least 2-3 weeks,” Jaitley had said.
According to a senior official at Canara Bank branch in central Delhi, today is testing time for bankers. To meet the heavy rush, more counters have been opened and middle management, including AGMs and DGMs, are dispensing cash at many branches.
Reports of chaos and scuffles at bank branches and ATMs streamed in from different parts of the country yesterday.
There were also reports of heated exchanges between hassled customers and overworked bank officials.