Rafique Khan, 44, a differently-abled resident of Vishrantwadi, spent three hours in the blazing sun before his turn came to withdraw money from the local ICICI branch. “It took me more than five minutes to withdraw the cash as the machine was very slow,” he said, adding that nobody cooperated with him, forcing him to jump the queue.
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Jayshree Marale, 70, who has been making the rounds of Bank of Maharashtra, Kasarwadi branch, for the past three days, said, “Every time I go there, the queue outside the bank seems unending…The ATM remains shut all the time. I don’t know when I will get to withdraw money as our family is fast running out of cash.”
Marale is an asthma patient and finds it difficult to stand on the roads due to high-pollution levels.
Subroto Chattopadhyay, a 59-year-old retired government officer, said, “Thinking that the ATMs will be working, I went to the centre early morning but none of the ATM centres were working and I had to visit the bank. But here too, the queue seems unending.”
Nilesh R, employed with a private firm, said he had to wait for seven hours and take an off from work just to withdraw cash. Senior citizens, disabled, ailing and the workers seem to have been hit the worst by this cash crunch. People in several parts of the city had to risk their lives as the queues spilled on to roads where vehicles moved in top gear.
While banks claimed that around 70-80 per cent of the ATMs were functional, locals complained that even the few operational ATMs were quickly running dry. Even as the serpentine queues in front of banks continued, bankers claimed that the crowds were much less than the last few days.
Bank of Maharashtra general manager Rajkiran Bhoir said that around 75-80 per cent of the ATMs operated by the bank were operational. “However, the ATMs ran dry quickly as people rushed to withdraw cash,” he said.
Over the last few days, Bhoir said, on an average Rs 60-70 crores worth of demonetised notes were changed at the various branches of the bank.
Bankers said ATM functionality was hit as Rs 100 denomination notes were in short supply. It is expected that the Reserve Bank will ensure proper availability of notes of all denomination early next week.
Meanwhile, cooperative banks continued to struggle for want of fresh supply of cash by commercial banks. Smita Deshpande, CEO of Bhagini Nivedita Sahakari Bank, said they had deployed almost all of their staff to handle just customers. “We are not even getting 10 per cent of our demand,” she said.
Sanjay Bhatt, manager of Rajarambapu Cooperative Bank, Shivajinagar, said, “We are not entertaining requests from non-customers to change notes. On Saturday, we received Rs 5 lakh which ran out soon. This problem will persist till the RBI succeeds in improving the circulation of the new notes.”
At BT Kawade Road area, that houses atleast seven to eight ATM centres, none of the ATMs worked till noon. After 1 pm, some of them started working and soon, a crowd emerged. Long queues were also seen outside banks like Union Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank and Andhra Bank, among others. Likewise, almost 150 people could be seen outside Bank of Maharashtra in Ghorpuri around 10 am.
In Pingle Vasti area on Mundhwa Road some of the ATMs of HDFC, Kotak and Citbank worked early morning. However, they too ran out of cash by around 8 am. “I went around 7 am and was able to withdraw cash. But my neighbour, who visited the ATM after 8 am, couldn’t find any operational ATM,” said Diksha Menon, a homemaker.
Though troubled like most commoners, Sridhar Moorthy, a resident of Pingle Vasti, said, “I feel that we all are fighting for a bigger cause — curbing black money. We need to support our government and bear with the short term inconvenience with patience.”
The ATMs in Audh, Baner and Pashan remained open only for a few hours while displaying the “cash not available” sign for the rest of the day on Sunday.
(With inputs from Garima Mishra & Sushant Kulkarni)