BENGALURU: No cash. These two words greet customers at several Automated Teller Machine (ATM) kiosks in the city these days. Bringing back memories of demonetisation days, many ATMs are running dry, forcing people to run from one kiosk to another in search of cash. With the nation staring at a cash crunch and suspicion of hoarding of Rs 2,000 notes doing the rounds, situation in Bengaluru and other parts of the state is no better when it comes to non-availability of cash.
“I don’t even remember the last time I saw a Rs 2000 note coming out of an ATM. We have been getting only Rs 500 and Rs 100 notes for around one week now. Most of the ATM kiosks in my area have ‘No cash’ boards, and it looks like demonetisation days are here again,” said Abhay Kaushik, a resident of Basavanagudi.
Ramesh K, a resident of J C Nagar, said, “There are six ATMs within a 1-km stretch in the neighbourhood. Out of them, only two ATMs are dispensing cash these days. An SBI ATM which used to have money during demonetisation also remains dry these days.”
ATMs located inside bank premises are also not being refilled with cash regularly. “When I visited the SBI bank premises in Jayamahal on Monday, only one out of four ATMs was dispensing cash,” said Shreya Patil, a software engineer.
“The last time there was a nationwide shortage of cash, we all went through hell. There are many payments that require cash even today and these cannot be put aside. Not everyone can shop in supermarkets where cards are accepted. We have kept D20,000 aside to tide us over the rest of the month,” said Arpita Singh, a resident of Jayanagar.
According to Srinivasa Babu, president of the United Forum of Bank Unions - Karnataka Chapter, the shortage was due to bad logistics and not because of the upcoming assembly elections in the state. “There are not enough D500 notes being supplied to banks,” he said.
Dry ATMs hit Hubballi hard
The situation is worse in other cities of Karnataka. In Hubbali, bank officials are asking customers to notify them in advance for cash requirements of more than Rs 50,000. Around 90% of ATMs in Hubbali were displaying a ‘no cash’ board on Tuesday. State Bank of India customers seem to be the worst affected.
According to officials concerned, two issues have contributed to the cash crunch in the state and elsewhere.
“The government itself has been clandestinely trying to curb the use of D2,000 notes. However, they did not ramp up the supply of D500 notes to match the demand. Now that the demand for cash has increased, there is no way that they are able to meet the demand with the small amounts of D500 notes which are being supplied to banks across the country,” a senior state-owned bank official said.