Even as the situation on pay day and possible pension withdrawals remained normal more or less in the capital Ranchi and elsewhere in the state, people faced usual problems as a result of intermittent cash flow in some of the banks. In Bank of India at Pithoria, nearly 25 km from Ranchi, 76-year-old Trilokinath Dubey waited for his turn to withdraw his pension. Retired from PWD as SSC grade clerk in 2001, his pension comes to around Rs 17,000. Today, he wanted to withdraw only Rs 13,000.
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“I came in the morning from my village, Bukru, which is five km away. They said there was some cash problem and asked me to check another branch nearby. There, they asked me to withdraw only Rs 6,000. But I was carrying only one cheque of Rs 13,000. So, I went home and have come again,” he said hoping that the assurance by the manager of cash having arrived would spare him the trouble of returning to the bank again.
Dubey said that, while both his sons were engaged in business, usually he spends his pension amount for running the home. “It is not that there is an emergency, but usually I withdraw within first couple of days of the month,” he said. A retired school teacher, Jagat Ram, too waited for his turn. “I have been waiting for a couple of hours. But, now we have been told that there is cash. I can wait. Even if it gets over, there would be no problem,” he said.
The branch manager was not immediately available. Being the lead bank for many districts, there is heavy demand on this bank, an official said. “The cash flow may be intermittent, but is being maintained,” he said. At another branch, Thakurgaon, there was no rush for salaried persons or the pension seekers.
“Usually, we fix separate days for different kind of pension seekers. So that was not a problem for us. However, the cash arrived in the bank after three days. This happened for the first time after demonetisation,” said the manager, Pawan.
In the city areas, there was neither long queue in the banks nor on the ATMs. Many pension seekers chose to stay away, as they knew that there could be queues and also there are withdrawal limits. “We were expecting a rush. But it was a rather smooth day. There is no problem of cash,” said an official of the United Bank of India in Dhurwa.
In coal belt area of Dhanbad, the payments by the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) and private group like Tatas is usually done between the 8th and 10th of December. “Their payslips are not even ready at this stage. However, there were lines outside the ATMs, which were functioning. This has been the case all along since demonetisation,” said a bank official from Dhanbad, on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) Amit Khare said that Jharkhand has got enough new currency to deal with any situation. “However, today, there was no problem related to pay-day and pension. We have provided and are providing cash constantly to the banks,” he said in a statement.
In order to expedite the cash flow, Jharkhand government and the banks here have got the approval from the RBI to bring the cash directly to Ranchi and not wait it to reach Patna (from where it is brought usually by train). “We will be getting it by air, straight from the press,” said Khare. A couple of days ago, Jharkhand had received nearly Rs 1,000 crore worth of new currency. Bankers said that Rs 500 notes are also gradually reaching them.
Specifically, for the coal-belt of Dhanbad, at least Rs 180 crores have been provided to various banks, Khare said, adding that further cash flow will be maintained and the situation was being reviewed.
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