It was shocking to read about the degree of brutality inside an ATM location in Bangalore, where a woman was attacked (“Ultimatum to banks on ATM security in Karnataka,” Nov.21). It is clearly the responsibility of banks to keep tabs on all their ATM locations. Users, especially women, must stick to using ATMs in well-lit and secure locations.
The media appear to be going to town blaming the government and the police for their laxity in providing security at ATMs. I was a branch manager of a nationalised bank near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, a few years ago. The police, while on night rounds, used to check all ATMs in their beat and often advise banks to provide security — a suggestion that most often fell on deaf ears. The reason was the need to be cost-conscious. Here, I wish to mention an interesting meeting we had with the Reserve Bank of India on the “Clean Note Policy” introduced nearly a decade ago. The RBI wanted my bank to install note-counting machines, to which our answer was that the machines were expensive.
The top RBI official said that rather than remitting our bank’s dividend of more than Rs.1,000 crore to the government, we could do so after ensuring our needs, such as this, first. We did buy note-counting machines for all our branches. Why I cite this is that in the case of ensuring security for ATMs, there is no point in blaming the police or the government.
The finger needs to be directed towards the top management of banks.
Providing security in the form of a guard is no good either. What if he is attacked? The need of the hour is to install “distress sirens” apart from CCTV. The “distress siren” should be a cordless one, with one switch connected to the ATM machine and the other to the wall. Under any distress condition, it must be audible at least half a kilometre. It should also be designed in such a way that it can be switched off only by using a special code known to the bank officials.