New Delhi: The 50-day deadline to deposit the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes in banks comes to an end on Friday but the cash crunch and queues before ATMs are likely to continue for some more time as currency printing presses have failed to meet the huge demand for new notes.

People, however, will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated Reserve Bank of India (RBI) counters till 31 March after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by 30 December.

The government is also planning to come out with an Ordinance making possession of old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes beyond a specified limit for numismatic purposes illegal and punishable.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise announcement on 8 November declared the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes invalid. The banks started accepting deposits in scrapped notes from 10 November.

However, a very few ATMs opened on 11 November, as most of the machines had to be recalibrated, for people to get cash which was available in Rs2,000 denomination. Saddled with cash crunch, banks resorted to rationing of valid currency notes and fixed a withdrawal limit of Rs24,000 per account in a week.

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Although the overall situation at banks has improved, ATMs still have to do some catching up. Many cash vending machines are still out of cash even after 50 days since demonetisation.

The government move was sharply criticised by the opposition parties led by Congress and TMC. With every passing day, the number of circulars from the government or the RBI kept on rising that led to confusion among bankers as well as the public.

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Bankers believe that restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond 30 December. After the demonetisation, the government had fixed a limit of Rs24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch.

The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be reviewed after 30 December.

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