By S Suchithra
Mumbai: Households in Mumbai were severely affected with supply for fresh vegetables, fruits and other produce vanishing from the local market. Banks failed to deliver on the Union government’s promises of offering cash through ATMs and counters adding to woes of residents.
Vendors lamented they did not possess smaller denomination (Rs.100, Rs.50) notes to pay wholesalers for stocks of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and other daily commodities. Mumbai residents were also searching their pockets for change to pay for anything from a bus ticket to medicines at pharmacies. Some medical stores were forced to turn away customers due to paucity of change, though they were willing to accept Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes. Taxis and autorickshaws refused to carry passengers who could not tender exact fare for their rides.
The suburban railway network of Mumbai, Mumbai Metro and BEST buses appeared to have fewer passengers than usual as employees of the public and private sector were forced to take a day off to exchange whatever notes of the demonetized notes they held and withdraw smaller denomination currency from banks. Rumoring was rife as people continued to indulge in guesswork.
Three days after the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, people faced difficulties withdrawing money at thousands of ATMs in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra on Friday.
Starting from dawn serpentine queues were witnessed at various banks’ Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in the city and suburbs as people made a beeline for withdrawals of the permitted amounts.
Lakhs of people were disappointed as thousands of ATMs did not dispense cash.
Reports of dry ATMs were received from different parts of Mumbai including Dadar, Worli, Kandivali, Ghatkopar, though banks assured they were making attempts to replenish stocks.
The few people who succeeded in making withdrawals from banks on Thursday encountered problems exchanging them in the markets for smaller denomination notes like Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10.
To counter this dilemma, many were compelled to make extra purchases to spend the entire Rs 500 or Rs 2,000.
Small businesses, roadside stalls, street-vendors, the working class and commoners bore the brunt with little or no business conducted for the third consecutive day on Friday due to lack of small denomination notes.
Reports of some ATMs running dry were received from Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Ratnagiri and other parts of the state, and key locations in Mumbai.
The State Bank Of India issued a statement today saying 29,176 of its ATMs were up and functioning and rest would be operational by Saturday.
By noon, several other banks ATMs were also replenished with stocks of currencies and transactions were initiated.
Long queues continued in bank branches and post-offices as desperate people attempted to exchange the cancelled notes for the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 which entered the economy from Thursday.
However, happy days were reported by the National Payments Corporation of India Ltd (NPCI), which recorded a 100 per cent surge or double its normal usage of RuPay cards at points of sales in the past 48 hours.
Managing Director and CEO NPCI, A.P. Hota said there were a good number of first-time users at PoS (point of sale) terminals, especially since there are no restrictions on business transactions through RuPay.
Its PoS and e-commerce transactions which stood at average 400,000 daily, doubled to around 800,000 in the past two days after demonetization, through its 1.40 million PoS terminals which accept all brands of debit/credit cards, Hota added.
In view of the ‘tremendous hardships’ faced by the people, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday night demanded extension of banking service hours which should be continued for several more days.
Maharashtra government on Thursday night permitted people to pay various utilities and government bills using the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till midnight on Friday (November 11) to ease citizens’ woes.
A majority of the public and private sector banks have already announced extended working hours ranging from 10-12 hours daily to cater to the public rush for exchange or other transactions.
However, petrol pumps will stop accepting the cancelled currency notes from midnight on Friday (the intervening night of November 11-12) as the new notes were introduced into the system.