CHENNAI: With ATMs across the country hit by a severe cash crunch, Tamil Nadu has not been left far behind with several ATMs putting out ‘no cash’ signs on Tuesday and residents having a feeling of deja vu triggered by fears of revisiting post-demonetisation days.In Chennai, only 14 of the 30 ATMs that Express visited had cash, out of which four ATMs only dispensed Rs 2,000 notes. Many ATMs in T Nagar, the city’s bustling commercial hub, remained dry. Only one of the 10 ATMs on the Usman Road that Express visited had cash. However, it only coughed up notes of Rs 2,000 denomination.
Meanwhile, none of the five ATMs checked in the Pondy Bazaar area had cash and the scenes were similar in Nandanam with long queues in front of almost every ATM. Out of four ATMs Express visited in Royapettah, only one had cash. ATMs on Mount Road also ran dry.N Kamakodi, managing director and chief executive officer of City Union Bank, said that till now the bank has not been facing any liquidity issue. “The cash flow is normal. Our 100 ATMs are being hit by connectivity issues as they were connected to Aircel. Apart from that we don’t see anything unusual,” he said.
All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) general secretary Ch Venkatachalam said that Tamil Nadu is not facing any cash crunch. Seven states –Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – are facing the crunch and we have requested the government to intervene, he added.In Tiruchy, bankers were left to circulate lower denominations since there was a shortage of cash flow in both state-run and private bank-owned ATMs. City-based ATMs were seen with piles of receipts of failed ATM transactions.
RT Ramamurthy, president, Tiruchy District Bank Employees Association (TDBEA), told Express that the limited cash flow was forcing us to provide currencies of Rs100 and even Rs 50 to some extent. “The problem has just gained public attention as the flow is limited in recent times, but the circulation diminished since last month. So, higher denominations like Rs 500 and Rs 2,000s are not available,” he added.
The ATMs in Madurai were no different, with most of the State Bank ATMs in the city including the one located at the MGR bus stand, remaining closed on Tuesday. Madurai has a total of 968 ATMs (729- urban and 239- rural and semi-urban). Coimbatore has 2,100 ATMs, of which 1,000 ATMs are situated in the city and nearly 65 per cent of the ATMs are administered by nationalised banks. Many ATMs belonging to nationalised banks have already bled dry. However, the remaining new generation banks are operating with enough cash.
Bank sources said that the RBI used to circulate cash to the district predominantly through HDFC Bank and that was one of the reasons for prevailing cash crunch, particularly in nationalised banks’ ATMs.
“Before the demonetisation, the RBI used to make currency circulation to ATMs through nationalised banks, mostly through the SBI. But after demonetisation, the RBI is making currency distribution through the HDFC Bank. The new generation banks are distributing the currency minimally to nationalised banks, compared to the pre-demonetisation days,” said banking sources.
Meanwhile, they have expressed suspicion that by charging service charges for using ATM more than five times, the new generation banks are making huge money since a large number nationalised banks’ ATMs are having no cash.However, some districts like Vellore have not felt the pinch. Even so, the problem of ATMs going partly dry with high denomination currencies has been reported from some parts of Vellore district even as most of the ATMs in the city were running with cash normally.