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As banks reopen, people line up in long queues across the country

As banks reopen, people line up in long queues across the country

New Delhi: Serpentine queues were seen outside banks across the country, which opened on Thursday after a day’s break following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, as people jostled to get lower denomination currency and new banknotes to pay for their daily basic needs.

Several bank officials said most of the branches were witnessing unprecedented rush and therefore, have sought the deployment of police personnel to deter any unwarranted circumstances.

Many people were also seen taking selfies with the new Rs 2,000 currency notes even as others complained of the hardships they faced to exchange the now-invalid currency.

Customers in Mumbai, seemed frustrated with some banks exchanging only Rs 2,000 with Rs 100 notes. “I was in queue for four hours to exchange Rs 4,000. But unfortunately I was permitted only Rs 2,000 to be exchanged that too with Rs 100 denomination,” said Ashwin Kadam, who stood in queue since 6 AM at the Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative Bank limited branch in suburban Vikhroli.

Clarifying on the issue, an executive of the bank said, “We are facing liquidity crisis. As and when the RBI supplies us sufficient notes we would start disbursing the notes with full permissible limit”.

He also said that they have opened additional counters and cancelled the leaves of the staff to meet the demands.

The RBI has ordered all the banks across the country to work on this Saturday and Sunday also to serve the people. Some customers who approached post office branches were seen displeased as they were unable to exchange the now defunct currency notes.

Some people were also miffed with the exchange limit of Rs 4,000.

Venting out her disappointment, Pramodini Naik, a housewife, said, “It seems we have to spend five to six hours daily for one month or two months to exchange the notes. This is really disgusting. Banning black money is ok, but certainly not this way”.

Meanwhile, some banks issued SMS on cell phones to inform their customers regarding the process to be followed to deposit the notes.

In Kolkata, people feared that there might not be adequate supply of new notes.

But bank officials said it would take some time to complete formalities for exchanging money but assured that there is adequate supply of notes.

Amid a large number of people thronging the banks, some suggested that the banks should have given tokens to save time.

Despite facing hardships, some people welcomed the Centre’s move to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.

There was an incident of minor scuffle in front of a bank in Howrah over entering the bank premises.

Banks have been asked to be open on weekends including Sunday to deal with the situation. The ATMs will resume functioning from tomorrow but there is a limit of withdrawal of Rs 2,000 per day which is expected to be increased in coming week.

In Ahmedabad, long queues were seen outside all bank branches in the state as several of them started dispensing new notes, while several others awaited the arrival of new notes.

Post offices were yet to receive the new notes and people who went to get their old notes exchanged were only given Rs 100 and Rs 50 denominations notes.

While banks were closed yesterday to make preparations for disbursement of the new currency, in place of the demonetised notes, people were faced hardships in procuring them today as new notes had not reached many branches and post offices.

Whereas, people who got new notes expressed happiness after receiving them.

Some people were seen queueing up outside various banks in the city as early as 6 am to exchange the old notes.

Senior citizens complained that there were no separate queues for them and the banks opened late. “Knowing that people have arrived here since early morning, the bank should have opened at least on time if not early. There is no separate queue for senior citizens,” an elderly woman at a Bank of Baroda branch in Surat said.

At some of the bank branches in Chandigarh, some people got into heated arguments with anyone jumping the queue. Banks were forced to deploy security with the help of city police at various places to prevent any law and order problem.

Particularly senior citizen and women complained that no special arrangements were made for them as they stood in the queue for hours to get their work done.

To deal with the heavy rush of customers, banks had yesterday announced to set up additional counters for exchange of high denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 which had been demonetised by the government a couple of days ago.

Banks have deployed extra staff at bank branches to facilitate customers so that they do not face any harassment.

Staff of the Zonal and Regional Offices have also been deployed in branches for disbursal of exchange amount of Rs 4,000 to the public.

PTI