Cash-strapped on pay day, people gherao bank official in Kolkata

Kolkata, Dec 1 (IANS) Irate customers on Thursday gheraoed a bank manager in southwest Kolkata and a section of government staff protested at the RBI office here as banks and ATMs failed to dispense adequate cash on pay day, leading to chaos at various places.

Operations at the Punjab National Bank branch in Khidirpur area was affected for some time after customers gheraoed its manager after the former were refused withdrawal of Rs 24,000, the maximum weekly limit as per RBI guidelines after demonetisation.
“In order to serve the maximum number of customers with the available cash, the bank put a further cap on the withdrawal limit but customers opposed the decision and demanded they be allowed to withdraw the full amount,” said Bank Employees Federation of India’s General Secretary Pradip Kumar Biswas.
“They gheraoed the branch manager, hampering banking operations for some time,” Biswas said. Police intervened to restore normalcy.
Familiar scenes of long queues of customers before bank branches and automated teller machine outlets seen since November 8 were back to haunt the people since Thursday morning — the first pay day after the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.
From young working professionals to pensioners, a large number of people queued up long before banks opened.
“Our bank accounts have been refilled but our pockets are mostly empty. Let’s see if we have some luck,” a young information technology firm’s employee said outside an ATM in Salt Lake, Kolkata’s IT hub.
A number of ATMs in the city and its suburbs displayed ‘no cash’ notices while those still functioning mostly dispensed Rs 2,000 notes.
A man said he went to a bank to withdraw his salary but was told he could get only Rs 1,500 due to cash shortage. “I refused and returned home,” he said.
Queues at city banks were relatively longer as many people wished to withdraw the maximum amount allowed in order to avoid a cash crunch in running households for the next few days.
“Withdrawal at ATMs is limited. I need bigger amount to run my house. That’s why I am planning to withdraw Rs 24,000 from the bank,” said a middle-aged man stading in queue at a nationalised bank since 7.30 a.m.
Even West Bengal government employees faced the cash crunch heat. The ATMs on state Secretariat Nabanna premises saw a mad rush.
“We had to skip office to withdraw money. Important office work in several departments is hampered due to the adverse situation,” a government employee complained.
United State Government Employees’ Federation organised a rally and agitated in front of the Reserve Bank of India branch to protest against what they said was acute cash crisis on the first day of December.
The protesters accused the RBI of not abiding by withdrawal regulations that they themselves implemented.
“The RBI is unable to provide people with the money it promised. It is getting tough for state government employees to run their households or even pay for their children’s education,” a federation member griped.
–IANS
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