EVEN AS the situation is getting better in urban areas of the Tricity, the majority of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the periphery areas continue to run dry. Chandigarh Newsline teams visited Dera Bassi, Kurali, Kharar, Mullanpur, Barwala and Pinjore, and found most of the ATMs either closed or without cash. At the main market of Dera Bassi, there are around 20 ATMs of different banks, of which only two were dispensing cash.
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The shutter of ATMs of IDBI Bank, Syndicate Bank, State Bank of Patiala and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) were down while there was no cash in ATMs of Punjab and National Bank (PNB), ICICI Bank, Union Bank, HDFC Bank, Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank, Central Bank and State Bank of India (SBI). Yes Bank and State Bank ATMs had cash. Yes Bank was dispensing only Rs 2,000 notes.
Amit Kumar, 28, a resident of Zirakpur, had come to Dera Bassi for withdrawing cash for a personal emergency, but he had to return empty-handed. While talking to Chandigarh Newsline, he said that he would have to now either go to Panchkula or Chandigarh for money. Bhavesh Jha, another resident of Dera Bassi, said that since November 8, ATMs had been cashless most of the time. Amanpreet, a student, said that people having bank balance below Rs 2,000 were not able to withdraw money as most of the ATMs were dispensing only Rs 2,000 notes.
Sanoj Kumar and Gultani Dass, both natives of Bihar who work in a private company at Zirakpur, said that withdrawing money from an ATM had become a struggle. “One has to spend considerable time for withdrawing money from ATM,” said Sanoj. On Barwala-Dera Bassi road, ATMs of Axis Bank, Indian Overseas and ICICI were without cash. At Barwala, ICICI Bank was without cash. All the six ATMs — Central Bank, HDFC, UCO Bank, ICICI Bank, PNB and Axis — at Pinjore visited by the Newsline team were without cash.
At Kharar most of the ATMs were without cash. Ravinder Singh Grewal, a local resident, said that there were eight ATMs in different areas of the city but they were without cash. “Banks hardly fill the machines with cash. In the last one month I have seen two or three times when there was cash in the HDFC bank ATM on the main road. Otherwise, the ATMs have been empty since the day when demonetisation was declared,” said Grewal.
HDFC ATM on National Highway 21, Gill road, Indus bank ATM at the main market, too, were without cash. People from nearby villages are dependent on cash they managed to get from the banks. The ATM of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) at bus stand, too, was without cash on Friday. There was no cash in the ATMs on Gill road, bus stand road and government hospital road.
The situation was the same at Kurali where all the seven ATMs were without cash. The cash was present in the HDFC ATM on the main Kurali-Ropar road on Friday but the ATM was emptied after 2 pm. Lead district manager, Mohali, R L Saini said that they were doing their best to resolve the cash crunch and they were focusing on the peripheral areas as they came to know that the problem was grim there.
Nirmal Chand, regional director, Reserve Bank of India, said, “We have given instructions to all private and cooperative banks that the ATMs in the rural and semi-rural areas should be replenished. We had held a meeting on this issue and the banks have assured that the ATMs in the periphery will not be short of cash.” He added, “The main problem of replenishing cash is in the far-off areas like Kalka. Due to this, ATMs remain cashless.”