Normal life was thrown completely out of gear on Monday with banks remaining closed on account of Gurupurb and the ATMs having no cash to dispense. Today is the sixth consecutive day the public is facing cash crisis following the government’s decision to demonetise high denomination currency in the country.
Many people, including the BJP’s own MP Subramanium Swamy, have questioned the ill-preparedness of the government as the country faces an ‘unprecedented’ situation in urban as well as rural areas owing to the huge shortage of cash.
Businesses have also been hit badly as people curtail their purchases due to shortage of money. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to ban all the high currency notes on November 8, people have been queuing up for several hours every day at the banks, many to be disappointed as banks and ATMs run out of money within the first few hours of opening.
The situation worsened on Monday as the banks remained closed and the ATMs across the country had no cash to dispense. Many travelled long distances for ATMs, but in vain.
“I travelled from Green Park to Malviya Nagar while checking all the ATMs on the way, but didn’t get a single ATM with cash,” said Kartik, a resident of Green Park.
“I’ve no money to buy vegetables. So, I’m making use of whatever food grains are available in the house,” said a daily wage worker, who has not been getting paid for his work for the past six days.
Meanwhile, the government said that it would take one or two days for the recalibrated ATMs to start working. Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and SBI have recalibrated some of their ATMs for the new notes. These machines will be tested for a day following which they will be loaded with the new Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 notes.
“The recalibrated ATMs will start dispensing Rs.2000 notes within two days,” Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said here on Monday. The ATMs have currently been dispensing only Rs.100 notes. It is, however, not known how many ATMs will start working in next two days.
Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had given two to three weeks’ time for all the two lakh ATMs to get recalibrated.
At the moment, machines can stock only 10 lakh in notes compared to 50 lakh earlier. That’s the reason ATMs get empty very fast.
According to National Payments Corporation of India which manages the national payments switch, around 1 lakh ATMs are working currently, adding that it will take at least a week to get the entire ATMs operational.
As people struggle to make two ends meet, the Congress, Trinamool and the Aam Aadmi Party have criticized the move. Now, Swamy has lashed out at the government for the poor planning and execution of the demonetisation drive and the subsequent currency chaos that has engulfed India.
“It is easy to argue that the ministry was not in the loop, but that is no excuse for not having a contingency plan,” he said, adding ad hoc roadside kiosks should have been set up for all and special kiosks organised for senior citizens. All these should have been planned as part of a contingency plan.
-By Anjul Tomar