There were just three functioning Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) out of a total of 45 in the heart of Hyderabad on Monday as banks remained cashless for the third day running. “There is no cash to refill the machines. As soon as we are stocking cash it is getting over. This problem has been going on for the past one week,” said an Axis Bank employee, in charge of operations at Somajiguda.
This translated into a race from one ATM to another for citizens to find cash. After two holidays, the hope of finding cash in ATMs on Holi failed for most citizens, some of whom had to fish out their cheque books to withdraw cash from bank branches. Adding insult to injury was the news about removal of weekly withdrawal limit that was imposed in the immediate aftermath of demonetisation and run on the banks. The news stemmed from RBI Deputy Governor R. Gandhi’s announcement on February 8 about monetary policy: “Effective from 13th March, 2017, there will be no limits prescribed by the Reserve Bank on cash withdrawals from Savings Bank Accounts.”
“I have visited seven ATMs in this stretch of road. There is no cash. I withdraw small amounts of money and I never thought this will happen again. I will have to visit the main branch I think,” said a University of Hyderabad student hunting for an ATM near Rethi Bowli.
Cashing in on the crisis, many petrol station attendants are doing brisk business in cash transactions. “I needed ₹ 5,000 I swiped my card at the petrol station in Chaitanyapuri and the attendant gave me ₹ 4,850. Others were also doing it for lesser amounts,” said a senior citizen of the locality.
Only recently, many of the private sector and public sector banks notified a slew of charges for transactions. Three private sector banks are now charging ₹ 5 for every ₹ 1,000 transacted after four transactions per month. Even e-wallet companies which had waived off charges are now levying 2 per cent charge for loading the wallets using a credit card. “Customers are reluctant to deposit the money as they will have to pay whenever they do transactions. That is one of the main reasons why we are unable to load cash. Deposits have dried up,” said the Axis Bank employee.