Updated: May 9, 2017 12:18:20 pm
It is now six months since demonetisation was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016. The initial days were of extreme difficulty when almost the entire country stood in line outside banks and ATMs daily to get rationed cash from their accounts. The process of depositing and exchanging old notes was a harrowing experience as well. Then came remonetisation which took a painfully long time to stabilise things and bring sanity into the situation which had spiraled out of the government’s control. It scrambled to make amends and after at least 50 different decisions in the first two months in terms of demonetisation and remonetisation, it was clear that it was by no means an easy episode to endure. After six months, indianexpress.com decided to do a ground check to see how things stand right now.
We chose Noida’s’ Sector 18 market — a sprawling commercial area with big and small shops, showrooms, eateries, restaurants, pubs, cinema halls, malls, offices, and, of course, lots of different banks and their ATMs. We checked out 14 ATMs of 13 different banks to get a comprehensive look at the situation.
IndusInd Bank ATM
ATM was filled with cash. The guard on duty Ramchander said that the ATM is replenished daily and there is rarely a shortage of cash. Whenever the ATM runs out of cash is due to the unusual surge of customers. However, the problems frequently faced are server issues and power outages for long periods.
HDFC ATM attached to the bank’s branch in G-Block
The ATM has two machines; one was out of cash and the other was out of order due to technical glitches. The officials at the bank said that the ATMs had run out of money late on Sunday night. It had been close to 18 hours since the ATMs had been out of order and neither the branch officials nor the guards on duty could tell us when the refill vans would arrive.
Although, the branch was giving out money to people. Account holders who were withdrawing money more than their daily ATM withdrawal limits were not being denied.
HSBC ATM in P-Block is located on the main road and gets a lot of footfall. When we visited the ATM, it was being replenished.
Devansh Gupta, who runs a Biryani joint nearby, said: “Though the situation has improved in the last 2-3 months, weekends are troublesome. ATMs run out of cash on Saturdays and not all ATMs are replenished on Sundays. Many customers have got used to paying via wallets and that gets troubling for us at times. Due to the new habit of paying via wallets, people don’t carry their debit/credit cards always. Our wallet saturates after a point and they don’t always have the entire cash amount handy. People ask to leave to get money from ATMs and don’t return at times.”
IDFC Bank opened a shiny three-storey branch recently in the complex but the bank has only one ATM. One bank official said we don’t see long queues of people standing outside ATMs anymore. We saw that before demonetisation. People are used to e-payments and other ways of making payments now so the run out doesn’t affect many people.
Oriental Bank of Commerce, e-lounge
The ATM centre had an ATM which was lying disconnected, possibly out of order. The ATM, unguarded, unmanned, was seemingly part of a premium branch of the bank.
Atul Narain, who frequently visits adjacent Chinese food outlets said this the ATM has been lying in this condition for some days now. “It is not rosy as it is told everywhere. In small markets, shopping malls, the situation may be easier. Apart from restaurants, if I want to have a street snack, they don’t take cards. They have stopped taking PayTM as well or any other wallet. Weekends are difficult as in a shortage of cash, your only option is to eat in a restaurant which means you spend more money than what you wanted to.”
The branch in Sector 18 is one of the largest in the city. The ATM is attached to the branch. Two were out of cash, one was dispensing only ₹2,000 notes and the other was dispensing all denominations. Two out of the three currency deposit machines were also out of order in the branch.
Citibank and Standard Chartered ATMs
ATMs of these two banks were inside their respective branches located opposite each other. The bank was almost devoid of customers. ATMs were dispensing all denominations and officials informed us that they had not faced any problems in the last three months. Long queues was a scenario that officials from both banks said was not regular at their branch ATMs. Apart from salary days and the first week of the month, the month is relatively easy, officials said.
A group of college-goers was miffed with the Yes Bank branch. The ATM was acting up, according to the guard who added that lots of people were having problems since Sunday. Jayati Kashyap, a student of Sharda University, who was out to celebrate her birthday, was miffed because her transactions froze for a minute each time she tried to withdraw money and then subsequently it timed out. “I tried to take out money but the ATM seems frozen. It accepts the request but it times out.”
Questioned whether they face similar issues whenever they frequent the place, her friend Aparajita Nair, said: “Demonetisation was difficult for us students. We didn’t have the option to take money from banks. Coming from that difficult time, it doesn’t seem troubling at all. Though it is always better if you don’t have to run around the market from ATM to ATM so that you can get some cash.”
SBI bank P-block branch and SBI NRI branch
Both were crowded, unlike ATMs of private banks. The sight here was completely different. Though the worn-out ATMs were in working order, people scrambled to withdraw money and tried to enter inside asking whether the ATM had cash.
The branch was locked and the ATM was out of order. The glitch seemed technical as the ATM didn’t detect any cards. However, the guard of the adjacent ATM said “nobody uses it anyway, it never has money”.
“Only branch users use the ATM, that too rarely. The ATMs are filled not more than twice a week now. There is no issue at present though after demonetisation,” said a guard.
Indian Overseas Bank
The ATM is attached to the branch and the former is a picture of a ruin. It seems the ATM is lying out of order since months. The Bank was closed and no shop owner around the establishment could remember the last time they used it.
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