Banks, ATMs mobbed for third day, cash chaos continues

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Tempers flared at many places outside banks and ATMs on Saturday as tens of thousands of anxious people waited for the third consecutive day to deposit or exchange their spiked currency or take out cash.

Serpentine queues started forming outside banks much before they opened, with people armed with their old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

There was growing frustration and anger amongst people in the winding queues.

An IANS correspondent who went around Saket in south Delhi found massive crowds outside all state-run and private banks with people desperate to get in.

Although a second Saturday is a holiday for most banks, the government has ordered all banks across the country to function both on Saturday and Sunday.

Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Yes Bank, Bank of Baroda, Axis Bank, ICICI, Standard Chartered, Kotak Mahindra… the crowds were the same everywhere.

Although orderly, the long queues spilled on to the roads, creating traffic bottlenecks.

“Some queues are two kilometres long,” said auto-rickshaw driver Babuddin. “I can’t imagine when the people at the end of the queue will be able to enter the bank.”

Police had to be called in after a quarrel broke out among impatient waiting crowds outside the Central Bank of India branch at Gulmohar Park in south Delhi. The residents welfare association had started giving tokens to colony residents, leading to a separate queue outside the bank.

“Why should there be a separate queue for residents.. What is so special about them,” said an angry Sheila, a domestic help who was waiting in queue for the past few hours.

Imran Khan, a youth working in a private company in Noida, said that the government must plan better management to deal with the cash chaos.

“I was standing in queue since morning but could not enter the bank. I came here to deposit demonetised currency in my account but the mismanagement is creating problems,” Khan told IANS.

At an HDFC bank branch in south Delhi, people lining up for hours could not make it to the bank as it was closing time when they finally reached the gates.

“I have been standing at the bank’s entrance for hours. During the past two hours I saw only 15 people coming out. How can they take so much time? I am in this line since 8 a.m.,” said Tanvi, a Delhi University student.

Another person in the line, Ranjan Karmi meanwhile wondered why there was such logistics trouble.

“We are ready to support the government in the decision they took, but why are we not getting our money changed? We have been in the line all day and now we are being told the bank is closed. Why can’t they work for some more time,” he said.

Another anxious customer, who runs a small business in Noida, seeing the massive queue ahead of him, said sarcastically, “Better go and ask Modi on what to do.”

A man standing outside a bank in Chandni Chowk told reporters that he took leave in order to exchange the demonetised bills so that he could meet his daily needs.

However, there were some who appreciated the government initiative to demonetize the higher denomination bills to curb black money and fake currencies.

They said that people must show patience.

“People must have patience and support bank officials while depositing or exchanging cash,” Tasleem Ahmed, who works in a private company in Noida, told IANS.

Ahmed said that he was standing in the queue for an hour outside the Lakshmi Vilas Bank in Noida Sector 16. He said that people were creating chaos while waiting for their turn.

On Saturday many ATMs were non-functional, with printed notices saying they had no cash.

Apologising for the inconvenience caused at the HDFC Bank ATMs, the bank said in a tweet: “Some of our ATMs could be running out of cash due to heavy demand.

“We’re working round the clock to ensure they are replenished. We regret the inconvenience and thank you for your patience. We urge you to use your MobileBanking, PayZapp for payments.”

Saturday was the third day after banks opened across the country following a day’s closure after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Tuesday night that 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would no more be legal tender.

Taken aback by the mass crisis, the government has extended till November 14 midnight the original 72-hour deadline for utilities to use the banned currency.