Banks reopen after two-day break, cash worries refuse to go away


Bank branches across the country on Monday reopened to very short queues after a two-day break even as there were reports of cash shortage at some locations.

The Opposition observed Jan Aakrosh Diwas to protest against the demonetisation move and the Left-dominated Tripura and Kerala went for Bharat Bandh, affecting banking services in these two states.

However, banks across the country stuck to normal banking hours. Many ATMs are still running dry despite recalibration of more than 60 per cent of such cash-dispensing machines.

Nearly 20 days after the Prime Minister announced cancellation of legal tender of old Rs 500/1,000 currency notes, small traders, truckers and construction workers are up against hardships in going about their business.

Due to sowing of rabi crop, the focus of the government has now shifted to rural areas, which means urban centres are feeling the cash squeeze.

Sources said funds are being made available in rural and semi-urban pockets so that farmers get adequate cash for sowing rabi crop.

There are also reports that banks in major metros are getting less than their cash requirement leading to chaos at the branches.

On Sunday, RBI Governor Urjit Patel had said the central bank is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and taking all necessary actions to “ease the genuine pain of citizens” with a clear intent to normalise the things as early as possible.

“The situation arising out of the decision to withdraw Rs 500/1,000 notes is being monitored on a daily basis and the printing presses have started to rebalance the production of new notes towards Rs 100 and Rs 500 bills,” he had said.

He also urged people to start using cash substitutes like debit cards and digital wallets, saying it will make transactions cheaper and easier and in the long term, it will help India “leapfrog into a less cash use economy at par with more developed nations”.

As part of efforts to improve convenience for people at branches, the government decided to stop exchange facility, a welcome relief for customers and bankers as well.

Last week, the government stopped over-the-counter exchange of the defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.


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