Currency woes: Many ATMs vandalised as customers vent ire at machines

Chennai, Nov 12 (IANS) Several customers have vented their anger at automated teller machines after failing to take out money from their accounts, according to officials.

Banks and ATMs have seen winding queues of people waiting to withdraw money, after the government suddenly moved to declare Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes illegal on Tuesday evening. The banks were closed on Wednesday and the ATMs opening only on Friday, with many machines running out of cash because of the huge demand.

The announcement about the currency notes was made by the prime minister in a televised address to the nation saying the action had been taken to tackle black money and the financing of terror operations.

According to V. Balasubramanian, President of white label ATM operator, Financial Software and Systems (FSS), several ATMs had been vandalised by angry customers. “The loss due to vandalism will be around Rs 10 crore and we have claimed compensation from the banks,” Balasubramanian told IANS.

His company manages ATMs which are not owned by banks.

Fisticuffs have broken out among customers in several parts of the country with some ire directed at the bank officials who have been called upon by the government to meet the huge demand for currency notes of lower denomination, as the higher denomination notes are no longer legal tender.

Many have had to stand in queues for over four hours only to return empty handed as machines ran out of Rs 100 notes which are not being adequately replenished in time. The machines are not yet configured to dispense the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes which the government has promised would be available in adequate numbers soon.