Customers halted operations, says bank staff union

Kolkata, Nov 24 (IANS) The Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) on Thursday alleged that customers vandalised bank property in some of the branches of public sector banks and halted banking operations after becoming impatient over the cash crunch following demonetisation.

The union said the situation “could turn worse” in a week or so if the customers face difficulties in withdrawing their salaries from banks and ATMs.

“Customers are getting impatient day by day due to non-availability of cash in banks and ATMs following the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

In a protest over the cash crunch, customers on Tuesday had halted the day’s operations in a branch of a public sector bank at Amabikanagar in West Bengal’s Bankura district. There were some incidents where customers vandalised bank property, said BEFI’s General Secretary Pradip Kumar Biswas.

“We apprehend the situation could turn worse in a week or so if customers’ plight continues for withdrawing salaries in the next week,” he said.

The union’s secretary Joydeb Dasgupta said: “There is a shortage of cash supply even though the central government kept on saying there is enough supply of cash.”

Citing Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) data, Biswas alleged that the shortage of cash would continue even though the “four currency notes printing presses” are running at “optimal capacity”.

“Cash shortage would continue even though four currency notes printing presses will run at their optimal capacity. It would take 4-5 months to restore normalcy in cash supply,” Biswas said.

In value terms, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes together accounted for 86.4 per cent of the total value of bank notes in circulation, RBI’s latest annual report said.

As on March 2016, there were 15,707 million pieces of Rs 500 notes and 6,326 million pieces of Rs 1,000 notes in circulation.