Mumbai and its suburbs today witnessed cash-strapped people queueing up outside banks and ATMs to draw money to meet their start-of-the month expenses on the first post-demonetisation pay day, even as people complained that they could not draw sufficient amounts.
People were seen waiting anxiously outside ATMs since wee hours to get hold of required amounts, fearing that bank coffers may dry up any moment.
Pradeep Pawar, an executive in a private firm, one of the early birds to turn up before an ATM at Powai area, said, "I could only get a Rs 2,000 note, but I got it in pretty fast in five minutes. Now tomorrow, I will be back in the queue again to withdraw enough so as to meet my monthly payments."
Another working professional Giridhar Rathi did not hide his frustration over banks not keeping pace with the customers' demands.
"After standing in the line for over two hours at a bank branch in Worli this morning, when my turn came, the officials told me that they would give only Rs 4,000. I was hoping to get at least Rs 10,000 against the permissible limit of Rs 24,000. This is unprofessional," he said.
However, bankers claimed that all was well and there was no need to rush.
"As such, none of our branches are short of cash. We have ensured that enough cash is available at our branches in anticipation of higher demand after disbursement of salaries and pension in accordance with the customers demand," Canara Bank MD and CEO Rakesh Sharma told PTI.
He said the bank had 102 currency chests and all its branches were linked to these chests.
"We are also allowing customers to withdraw cash upto the permissible limits of Rs 24,000 per day," Sharma added.
Sangeeta Haralkar, a homemaker from Bhayander in neighbouring Thane district, said she was finding it difficult to meet her family's daily needs at the turn of the month with paying machines only vending out Rs 2,000 notes.
"After being in line for over an hour, I could get only one note of Rs 2,000. How am I supposed to cope with this? How would I distribute this amount to pay my maid, milk vendor and news paper vendor? The government must understand that everything cannot go cashless all of a sudden," she said.
Dinesh Gangurde, whose season ticket for the local train
got over today, wondered as to why the Railways have not introduced digital payment facility at its counter, if it wanted to match its words with action.
"I was upset when I could not pay for my season ticket through Paytm. When the government is boasting so much, why doesn't it install facilities that accept fares through e-wallets," asked another traveller Bhaskar Trivedi.
The cash crunch got compounded today with most of the ATMs across the city either being either shut or non-functional for want of re-calibration to suit new notes.
"Working class cannot go to the bank everyday for withdrawls. If at all we go, tokens are given to the first 100-200 customers and the rest are turned away. This leaves us with the option of going to ATMs. But they too are closed or out of function," said Vivek, a resident from Dombivli.
But there were some others who were ready to face these hardships to make way for the digital regime.
Gopal Chandak, a businessman from Sewri said, "Those who are suffering need to think otherwise. They should change their mindset that only keeping money in hard cash will solve problems. It will take some time for people to get into the mode of e-money which is equally important for the economy.