MUMBAI: Leela Oberoi, 75, walked out of the “Sion Koliwada” branch of the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC Bank) in a state of utter shock, on Wednesday.
She is not even able to recall her total deposits ‘frozen’ in PMCB after Reserve Bank of India orders limited withdrawals to a meagre Rs 1000 per account for six months.
A heart patient, who hardly keeps any cash with herself and withdraws when needed to buy medicine, her future seemed grim.
Confusion prevailed as customers swarmed the place, Wednesday, to check individual account status. Chats with fellow customers in queue, confounded the confusion. Rumours of folding PSU banks, bad loans et al, was disconcerting to most.
Finance Secretary Rajeev Kumar and RBI tweeted to scotch rumours on social media. There were no takers, neither answers to their immediate troubles. Opposition parties were quick to join the attack.
The official handle of Congress party trended #BJPSeBanksBachao – “The restrictions placed on PMC depositors seem eerily similar to those placed on the entire nation during the disastrous period of Demonetisation,” it said.
Investors in Mumbai have still not forgotten the collapse of Madhavpura Cooperative Bank involved in the Ketan Parekh scandal.
Recently, another Mumbai based Karad Bank was put under restrictions. RBI deputy governor N.S.Vishwanathan last year had highlighted how the Madhavpura incident dented customer confidence and the market share of urban cooperative banks fell from 6.3% to 3.3% in 2017.
“With UCBs primarily dealing in small ticket advances, NPAs of 7% at the aggregate level is not very comforting. UCBs are still under BaselI framework and, therefore, mere compliance with CRAR may not be enough,” he warned.
There was as much anger against RBI for imposing “unreasonable restriction”, a view echoed by PMC’s managing director Joy Thomas. Many small-time traders, taxi drivers, and daily wage earners have been affected by the PMC ‘freeze’.
Manjit Garkal, a consultant who employs 12 personnel is worried about managing staff salaries and vendor payments beyond a month.
A businessman customer from the western suburbs of Mumbai had come all the way to check at the Sion Koliwada branch about the situation. He has held an account at the branch since its inception as a small single branch in 1984 when he was a resident nearby.
“Luckily for me, I have other accounts with a private and a PSU bank as well. I feel in one-month things will settle down,” he said.
A driver who had sold his car and put all his money in the Sion branch is shattered. Many cooperative housing societies are also in trouble as they maintained an account with cooperative banks and another with a PSB.
Pratiksha Nagar society said it had Rs 25 lakh in PMCB and Rs 3 lakh with a PSB. Its maintenance work has been jeopardised.