GOELA KHURD: A bank without cash and a queue without end – that’s the story of the state-run Punjab National Bank, the only bank in this prosperous rurban village on the edge of south-west Delhi. Supply from the RBI’s currency chest is vastly erratic and grossly inadequate, stoking anger and frustration among the customers.
Khokon Dulai says he has been standing in line every day for the past fortnight, hoping to withdraw cash. “The worst thing is there’s no guarantee. You may not get money even if you stand for six hours in the queue. Some days the cash doesn’t come at all. On other days, it’s over in half an hour. Even the (adjacent) ATM hardly works,” says the packer from Bankura. He travelled to Lajpat Nagar, about 20 kms away, to withdraw Rs 2,000.
Dulai’s complaint is representative of what several account holders told TOI on Thursday. They were daily wagers, housepainters, small contractors, retired government employees. Men, women, children and senior citizens – they had queued for small amounts to meet their daily needs.
PNB expressed helplessness in resolving the issue. “For the last two day’s supply of cash has been a problem,” said an official at the bank. The “rush of angry crowd” has prompted the bank to call police for anger management. Now two cops regulate entry to the bank.
To manage the customers and cash shortfall, bank officials are “rationing” outgo and that includes those who are approaching the bank to withdraw money for wedding expenses. “A lady wanted to withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh which has been allowed for weddings. We gave her Rs 10,000 and assured her that she will be given the rest of the amount when the supply improves,” said a PNB official.
Villagers say the short supply of the new 500 rupee notes has added to their woes and the inferior quality of small denomination currency bills are forcing customers to wait for fresh notes. Bank officials admit to the problem with these notes. “You are unlikely to accept some of the soiled 50 rupee notes,” said another bank official.
The transition of currency has spurred a range of fall-outs. Daily wager Om Prakash says a grocer offered to take an old Rs 500 note, but only on the condition that he buys goods worth Rs 400.
Retired railway employee Baran Singh narrates another side effect of the November 8 demonetisation. After standing in queue for long hours, he got a Rs 2,000 currency note. But shopkeepers were unwilling to accept it for a small purchase, saying they do not have the change to return the balance. Instead, one of them gave Singh an idea. “Deposit the Rs 2,000 note with me and use it like a debit card,” the grocer suggested. Singh accepted the offer.