West Bengal: Ink waters down the queue

Not all branches get indelible ink, crowds thin where system in place

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Updated: November 17, 2016 4:16 pm
West Bengal News, demonetisation news, West benga demonetisation, Ban using INK, INk for bnks, Latest news, India news A bank official marks a person with indelible ink after exchanging high-value currency in Kolkata on Wednesday. Partha Paul

A day after the BJP government directed all banks to use indelible ink, in an election-like tactic, to stop repeat exchangers from queuing up, the banks complained of unavailability of the same.

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Most banks in the city were forced to exchange notes without it, but if queues can be regarded as any indication, the crowd near banks which have started using the ink has been reduced to nearly half of what it was on Tuesday.

Application of indelible ink on the right hand index started on Wednesday from the High Court branch of the State Bank of India.

Partha Pratim Sengupta, chief general manager, SBI, said the ink had not reached all banks, which were still exchanging notes like usual.

On the inconveniences being faced by the public in withdrawing money from the ATMs, he said, “There are about 3,500 ATMs in my circle in West Bengal. Of those, over 2,000 have been made operational for dispensing Rs 100 notes and about 120 ATMs have been configured for dispensing notes of Rs 2,000 denomination.”

The crowd has thinned drastically with the introduction of the ink. “It has proved to be an effective medium. Many who were repeating their turns are prevented and only first-timers are given chances,” said an employee of the SBI branch on Syed Amir Ali Avenue.

A few others at the high court branch said it had delayed the process slightly. “This has proved to be advantageous for customers. The ink application is taking a few more seconds, but the number of unwanted people has come down drastically. More and more people are getting access to new currency notes,” said Girish Bandopadhyay, a 50-year-old waiting in the queue.

Chandrasekhar Ghosh, CMD, Bandhan Bank, too, lauded the attempt, but maintained that the process involved some logistic problems.

“More people are getting the opportunity to exchange their notes. Of course, there is an ink supply crunch. It was announced yesterday that the ink would be used, but the ink could not be supplied to banks in the remotest parts of the country because it is produced only in Mysore. In a few days, it will be streamlined,” he said on the sidelines of an event.

The rush was usual, on the eighth day after the demonetisation, in front of the banks where the ink was not being used.

Workers of political parties have chipped in with whatever they could. “A temporary shed has been erected along the wall of a building adjacent to Union Bank of India, Topsia Branch, to give shelter to those standing,” said Muzammil Haque. Congress cadres were seen providing drinking water to people who had queued up outside banks in the Burra Bazar area in north Kolkata.