NEW DELHI: Several parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and poll-bound Karnataka have reported a shortage of currency and ATMs running down, which the government today attributed to unusual spurt in demand in last three months.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the "temporary shortage" in certain states is being "tackled quickly" and that there is "more than adequate" currency in circulation.
Jaitley, who has been away from office since April 2 due to a kidney ailment, said he has reviewed the currency situation in the country.
The issue which started yesterday has escalated with more cities reporting the same.
Vadodara: People complain of inconvenience due to lack of currency in ATMs; say, 'most of the ATMs were out of service, could only withdraw Rs 10,000 from one working ATM that also after spending a lot of time in the queue' #Gujarat pic.twitter.com/ZkbGCc4j4f— ANI (@ANI) April 17, 2018
"Overall there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the Banks. The temporary shortage caused by 'sudden and unusual increase' (in demand) in some areas is being tackled quickly," he said in a tweet.
The government is checking with banks and the Reserve Bank of India to ensure the adequate supply of currency.
We've cash currency of Rs1,25,000 cr right now. There is one problem that some states have less currency&others have more.Govt has formed state-wise committee & RBI also formed committee to transfer currency from one state to other. It'll be done in 3 days: SP Shukla, Mos Finance pic.twitter.com/Xm4b4NhMqu— ANI (@ANI) April 17, 2018
#MadhyaPradesh: People in Bhopal say 'We are facing a cash crunch. ATMs are not dispensing cash. The situation has been the same since 15 days. We have visited several ATMs today as well, to no avail.' pic.twitter.com/VwtR3s7flL— ANI (@ANI) April 17, 2018
A statement by the finance ministry confirmed reports of cash shortages and some ATMs running dry of cash or becoming non-functional in some parts of the country.
"There has been unusual spurt in currency demand in the country in last three months," it said.
While currency supply increased by Rs 45,000 crore in the first 13 days of April, "unusual spurt in demand" was seen more in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, it said.
Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said the government has formed a committee to address the problem of currency shortage in certain states and the issue would be resolved in next 2-3 days.
"The Government has set up state-wise committee and RBI has also formed a committee to transfer currency from one state to other because for money transfer you need the permission of the RBI. It (the shortage) will be solved in 2-3 days," he said.
However, the Opposition criticised the government over the entire matter.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what he described as destroying India's banking system by ushering in "acchhe din" for fugitive jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
"Modiji destroyed the banking system. Nirav Modi fled with Rs 30,000 crore and the Prime Minister didn't utter a word," the Congress scion said.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said the matter reminds her of the demonetisation days.
She also asked whether a "financial emergency" was going on in the country.
"Seeing reports of ATMs running out of cash in several states. Big notes missing. Reminder of #DeMonetisation days. Is there a Financial Emergency going on in the country? #CashCrunch #CashlessATMs," Banerjee tweeted.
RBI report shows that the currency in circulation in the country has reached the pre-demonetisation level of about Rs 17 lakh crore.
"The Government of India with the Reserve Bank of India have taken all steps to meet this unusual demand. We had adequate reserves of currency notes which have been used to meet fully the extraordinary demand generated so far," the finance ministry statement said.
"We continue to have in stock adequate currency notes of all denominations, including of Rs 500, Rs 200 and Rs 100 to meet any demand," it added.
The government said there has been an adequate supply of currency notes to meet entire demand.
"The government would also like to assure that it would be supplying adequate currency notes to meet even higher levels of demand if such demand were to continue in the coming days/months."
"Also, steps are being taken to ensure that ATMs are supplied with cash and non-functional ATMs normalised at the earliest."
SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar said it would not be correct to state that there is a currency shortage in the country.
There has been an "imbalance" due to the crop procurement season when demand for currency goes up.
He said Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are seeing heightened demand due to procurement season.