Winding queues outside Chennai banks, many ATMs don’t work

Chennai, Nov 11 (IANS) For a second day in succession, serpentine queues of common people formed outside banks and ATMs here to exchange old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and to withdraw money. But many ATMs didn’t operate all across Tamil Nadu.

“There is a severe shortage of 100 and 50 rupee notes. Further, the ATMs have to be reconfigured to stock and dispense smaller denomination notes as against the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes stocked earlier,” a banker told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Another employee of a nationalised bank, also requesting anonymity, said the operations went off smoothly at all branches of the bank on Thursday when they opened for transactions after a day’s closure.

But the problems with the ATMs remained.

“Each ATM will have four cassettes/cash slots. Two will be used for higher denomination notes and two for lower denomination. Each cassette can hold 2,500 new notes,” a banker told IANS.

However, there was no cash to fill even the two cassettes for people to withdraw, he added.

Whatever amount was put into ATMs vanished in no time due to the long queues.

According to him, all the bankers were at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to collect cash from the chest.

“The banks should have separate counters to handle bulk depositors of old notes so that normal people are not affected,” Nitya V, a homemaker, told IANS.

“Yesterday (Thursday) one person came to the branch (of a private bank in Chennai) where I was in a queue. He bypassed us all to deposit several lakhs of old notes. The bank staff disposed him off first while many people were waiting in the line,” she said.

“It is only the common people who are in the queue to withdraw cash and not the rich,” she said.

An employee of a nationalised bank told IANS: “The government has said that banks will work on Saturday and Sunday. But without any cash in sight it is going to be a problem for all.”