Long queues at banks as many ATMs shut in Bengaluru

Bengaluru, Dec 1 (IANS) With hundreds of ATMs shut after cash dried up in them by Thursday afternoon, thousands of people queued up at banks in the city to draw whatever amount they could get across the counters.

Barring a few ATMs of private banks and the State Bank of India (SBI) in some commercial and residential areas, most of other bank ATMs had no money.

“As more cash was required in the banks for withdrawal by their saving and current account holders on the month’s first day for wages and contingencies, many of them could not replenish notes in their ATMs post-noon,” admitted a bank union representative to IANS here.

With the acute shortage of new Rs 500 notes even a fortnight after the sudden demonetisation on November 8, most of the ATMs in the city and across Karnataka have been doling out the new Rs 2,000 notes or Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes up to Rs 2,500 daily for every debit or credit card holder.

“We had a tough time in giving even cash across the counters to our account holders as the supply from our treasury chest was 25 per cent (Rs 15 lakh) of our daily need of Rs 60 lakh. We had to literally ration the cash for each customer to ensure they don’t go out empty-handed,” lamented Karnataka Bank’s branch manager Sadanand Kumar.

Though saving account holders are entitled to draw up to Rs 24,000 per week and current account holders up to Rs 50,000 a week, many of them were told come on Friday and Saturday to collect the remaining amount on priority as there was no enough cash to meet the demand.

In many state-run banks like Canara Bank’s branch on Infantry Road in the city’s central business district, several customers had to wait outside two hours as it ran out of cash and supply was delayed due to shortage at its treasury office.

“We had to restrict and regulate entry of customers into the branch to prevent crowding the premises and avoid any untoward incident due to heavy rush for withdrawals and as our ATM in the annex had to be shut for want of cash,” said a bank official on the condition of anonymity.

Being the largest state-run bank with 200 branches and 2,000 ATMs across the city, SBI coped with the rush, as it had enough cash to distribute through its ATMs and counters despite long queues till 4 p.m.

“We have managed to serve about 10,000 customers till the closing hours in the branch with separate counters for withdrawals, deposits and senior citizens,” said Srinivasa Rao, Senior Manager of SBI’s Shivajinagar branch.

To meet the urgent needs of current account holders, including companies and commercial establishments, the bank had to rationalise withdrawals by saving account holders, as deposits were mostly of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which are invalid.

“Even our regular customers are not depositing enough Rs 100 and Rs 50 notes but Rs.2,000 notes. As a result, we are unable to rotate cash as before demonetisation. With the new Rs.500 notes in short-supply, we are forced to give Rs.20 and Rs.10 notes or coins for retail customers,” added Rao.

–IANS

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