Demonetisation: Queues getting shorter at banks; long wait at ATMs continues

All banks will today serve only their respective customers and will not exchange demonetised old Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes from customers of other banks


Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the rush at bank branches has come down significantly and that there is absolutely no panic. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the rush at bank branches has come down significantly and that there is absolutely no panic. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

New Delhi: After 10 days of demonetisation of high value notes, many banks have now started witnessing shorter queues following some restrictions on exchange demonetised bills, but people were still seen waiting in frustration at ATMs due to cash scarcity.

All banks on Saturday will serve only their respective customers and will not exchange the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes from customers of other banks. However, this restriction is not applicable on senior citizens as they are allowed to visit any bank branches to exchange old defunct currency notes.

The exchange limit has already been less than halved to Rs2,000 to ease some pressure on cash demand.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the rush at bank branches has come down significantly and that there is absolutely no panic. “Queues have become extremely small and this is all over the country,” Jaitley had said.

To screen repeat customers, banks at many places are applying indelible ink mark on fingers of people who are exchanging notes. With the government and RBI struggling to manage cash availability across the country, the small businesses — from vegetable vendors to dhabas and small kirana stores — that use cash as mode of transaction were the hit.

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People faced inconvenience in purchasing milk, vegetables, medicines as they did not have adequate small currency notes. At various hospitals across the country, patients and their family members are facing inconvenience in buying medicines, food and availing transportation.

A bulk of daily labourers were rendered jobless as construction and other activities came to a standstill in the wake of cement, sand and other supplies not coming in.

To ease inconvenience to the people, government has allowed withdrawals up to Rs2.5 lakh for weddings and up to Rs50,000 for farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on 8 November surprised citizens by announcing demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes and since then large number of seemingly unending queues before banks and post offices are seen in order to exchange these currencies.

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