After a day’s break, the banks and post offices across the city opened to long queues on Thursday, as frenzied people scrambled to deposit the “illegal tenders” into their accounts and even get those exchanged with new currency notes.
The bank and post office premises were buzzing with panicky citizens, prompting the CM to call the situation a ‘financial chaos’ on Twitter.
“I enquired from all sections of the society about the present financial chaos. The feeling is that black money was to be brought back from outside …as per the electoral assurance. But, now the government has made the common people feel helpless and penniless. Is it right?” she Tweeted on Thursday.
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In three other separate Tweets, she said the was decision was affecting the marginalised section of the society. The tea garden owners have expressed difficulty in paying wages to the workers on time, she added. “This could lead to frustration among poor workers, most of whom are tribals. Desperation? Starvation?” one of the tweets read.
People, especially from the middle class families, had been facing a severe cash crunch since the decision of demonetising was announced.
“I have not been able to buy even the basic groceries for the household because we have exhausted all the 100-rupee notes and the shopkeepers won’t accept the old Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes. I had to wait for nearly four hours before I could withdraw money,” said Sonali Majumder, a south Kolkata resident, who was spotted waiting outside SBI, Park Circus branch.
Bankers had braced up for the avalanche of customers and sought additional police security to deal with the situation, but there were only two police officials in each of the branches.
While some people were spotted taking selfies with the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes and posting them on social networking sites, a few others confronted with a different kind of trouble. “I have got two Rs2,000 notes, but now I have a new set of problems. The vegetable vendor of my locality refused to give me a change for that. I went to another shop, which readily helped me out, but with three ‘illegal’ Rs 500-rupee notes that I will have to deposit in the bank again,” said 55-year-old Nimai Ranjan Das, a resident of Shyambazar in north Kolkata.
At some of the bank branches – like the Shyambazar branch of UCO Bank – the new notes had not arrived till Thursday noon.
Similar was the situation at the bank’s Bagmari branch, where the branch manager was having a tough time at 3pm, trying to explain angry people in queues that money was on the way.
A scuffle broke out among customers at SBI Beleghata branch, where people had been waiting since 4 am on Thursday. Many had also come to deposit their EMIs.
It was revealed that the banks were informed on Wednesday midnight that every branch would receive Rs 4 lakh each of the new currency, but not all branches got the promised amount.
People have also been found coming up with innovative ideas to avoid the queues.
“I had saved a little less than Rs 10,000 in legal notes in my piggy bank. I found that online shopping sites would accept all currency notes under cash on delivery option. I will pay on delivery and will return the goods within two days.
The companies will ask for my bank account and transfer the money directly to it,” quipped Dilshaad Hossain, a student of Presidency University.
Some suggested that the banks should have given tokens to save time.
“In that case we would not have to wait in line for long. It will also be of much help for the elderly people,” said a person, who had been waiting since early morning on Thursday.
Banks have been asked to be open on weekends, including Sunday, to deal with the situation. The ATMs will resume functioning from Friday but there is a limit of withdrawal of Rs 2,000 per day, which is expected to be increased in coming week.