BHUBANESWAR: After two days of confusion and frenzy over demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, the banks reopened on Thursday with people queuing up in large numbers to get the latest legal tenders in exchange of the old.
Almost all nationalised and private banks saw a steady flow of people to exchange the old denominations through the working hours of the day.
At the Reserve Bank of India’s Regional Office, people lined up for exchange. Most people wanted small change - ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2000, while Rs 4000 is the ceiling for exchange for the time being.
The State Bank of India branches witnessed long queues as people waited for hours to get their currencies exchanged and deposit personal savings.
However, after the initial burst of frenzy, the number started to thin down as banks had made elaborate arrangements to negotiate the rush. Requisition slips were stacked up and the staff were armed with instructions to help the customers.
Interestingly, most wanted their exchanges in Rs 100 denominations which seem to be running short in availability. Instead, people were handed out the new Rs 2000 denominations.
‘’I wanted the Rs 100 currencies for day-to-day expenditure but the bank staff gave me two Rs 2000 currencies in exchange for Rs 4000. I am sure it will be a problem when I go to the grocery shop or daily market for shopping. I don’t know how to deal with the situation,’’ said a customer.
The bank staff justified the decision. ‘’We have to save the Rs 500 denominations for people seeking change for Rs 500 or Rs 1000. When the new tenders come in a day or two, the situation will ease. People should not worry,’’ said a staff at Indian Overseas Bank here.
While some banks provided exchange for Rs 4000, the maximum per person, some private sector banks offered exchange for only Rs 2,000.
The demonetisation also posed certain problems as the procedures were not clearly understood by all. At some banks, people came in with photo copies of ID proof but failed to produce the original document which is mandatory for verification.
With the Finance Ministry coming up with new announcements on limits of small deposits and the rider for income tax deductions, people also appeared reluctant to go in for deposits of their personal savings at home. At some places, they used their acquaintances to get the old currencies exchanged.
Though the situation showed signs of settling, the tourists faced the most problems. In places like Puri and Konark, tourists - both domestic and foreign - faced tremendous inconvenience as the two denominations went out of circulation. While top hotels accepted cards, smaller and medium segment hotels with no facility for plastic money acceptance created problem for the tourists.
With ATMs not operational for the last two days, tourists had to spend a considerable time at bank branches in Puri to get their currencies exchanged. ‘’The Tourism Department should have directed hotels to accept old denominations since they transact with banks directly and would have no problem in submitting the old currencies,’’ said a tour operator.
Queer as it may sound, some retail stores also stopped accepting debit cards in the City and downed shutters.