Cash crunch may escalate during three-day bank holiday

Mumbai : With banks closed for three consecutive days from today and ATMs in the city still not functioning to full capacity, the ongoing cash crisis may escalate further leaving residents high and dry for want of cash during the weekend.

Customers are venting anger as most of the ATMs are running dry. As banks remained closed, long to moderate queues were seen outside different cash-loaded ATMs, while some ATMs continued to flash ‘ATM Closed’ placard.

Citizens who stood by government’s decision to demonetise high denomination notes earlier, are now running out of patience following reports that huge amount of cash in new currency is being seized by the Income Tax and police authorities across the country.

“This is really shocking and shameful that a common man is dying in the bank and ATM queue to get Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 but the high and mighty are stashing cash of over Rs 60 crores and Rs 80 crores … where are these notes coming from? Can this be possible without nexus of bank officials,” a former banker from Indian Bank said while letting out his aggression.

Referring to the cash seizure of Rs 85 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes from a person at Matunga in central Mumbai by police yesterday, he said, “Bankers are turning the bold decision by the Prime Minister into a meaningless exercise.”

Meanwhile, few banks including a private sector bank kept their branch open for accounting purposes. A senior executive of the bank having branch at Ghatkopar (East), said, “We have been asked to keep the bank today for accounting purpose and we are doing the same here. It is not open for public.”

Interestingly, few ATMs in south Mumbai dispensing Rs 2,000 notes were found empty, an indication that people are not in favour of possessing this high denomination note.

Due to the holidays starting from December 10, all the banks would remain closed for three consecutive days. December 10 being a second Saturday, December 11 being Sunday and December 12 being Milad-un-Nabi, Prophet’s Birthday.

Ajeet Kumar, an executive working with a pharmaceutical company, who withdrew Rs 2,000 from an ATM in suburban Andheri, said, “It seems that the real trouble will begin from tomorrow (Sunday) as few ATMs are currently filled with cash which would be over by evening today.”

“It would be interesting to see how people will cope up with cash crunch for next two days after cash in the ATMs dries up,” he said.