Day 36 of demonetisation: Banks, ATMs still crowded

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) Banks and ATMs on Wednesday continued to be crowded with long queues visible outside even 36 days after the ban on high denomination notes.

The queues appeared just as long and branches as crowded as on November 10 — when banks opened for business after the November 8 demonetisation announcement. And those waiting to withdraw money comprised disaffected and despairing people, made cash-poor by the central government’s demonetisation move.

The Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch near the Nangloi Metro Station in west Delhi had at least 150 people waiting at 8.00 a.m. — two hours before its scheduled opening time.

The disaffection seemed to have led people to believe that the ban is anti-poor, said an individual privy to the daily scene at the bank.

“So far, I have seen only the poor, labour-class people in queues. Yet to see an advocate, a top police officer, a judge, or any local politician coming and waiting,” Asghar, a paan vendor in front of the bank, told IANS.

“The rich people don’t have to wait in line, all the money is funneled to them from back channels, without them having to wait in the queues,” he said.

“The people start gathering outside the bank as early as 10 p.m. and sleep or chat through the night, so that they could get their cash as soon as possible in the morning, and so that they could avoid being absent from their workplace,” he added.

Another young man, who manned a fruit stall outside the bank, told IANS of an ingenious way of mitigating the anguish of standing in queue for long hours — something like a relay race.

“My friend is already in the queue, and I’ll replace him once he’s tired. There’s another friend and once he comes, I’ll come back to my ‘rehri’ (cart). This way I won’t lose any business as either I or someone else is always at the stall,” he said.

The queues at the working ATMs in Connaught Place were also the same as they were the very next day after demonetisation.

“I finally withdrew money today after waiting in line for two hours. I survived cashless for days when I would return home at the very sight of winding queues, but I couldn’t do without cash now,” Apoorva Agnihotri, a logistics company executive, who withdrew money in Connaught Place, told IANS.

Besides the struggle at the ATMs and banks, people are forced to wage one such in their daily life as well, as they are forced to cut down on their expenses and live miserly.

“I was short on cash already when my house-maid asked for her salary. I had to pay her wages at the risk of pinching my own pocket. You see, she doesn’t even have a phone, forget about a smart phone,” Sagar Arora, a senior manager in a health insurance company in Sector-63 Noida, told IANS.

“Now, I have asked a couple of my friends for some cash. I cannot afford to stand in queues as I am hardly left with any time after my shift. I wish someone could find a scale to measure the inconvenience being caused to people. It’s immense,” he added.

Some citizens, feeling pushed to the wall by the demonetisation, hired others to be in the queue in their stead. One such individual talked to IANS and revealed that she was not alone, and that she got the idea from one of her friends, who got it from another.

“I pay a man Rs 500 to be in line and withdraw cash,” said Langsun from Meghalaya, who works here as a counsellor for disabled children.

“We are four people in my family, and the man charges Rs 500 for each card,” she added.

–IANS

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