Following the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, the Prime Minister has on Monday chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss measures for smooth exchange of currency notes. Accordingly, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement that there will not be any charges for transactions at other banks’ ATMs till the year end. Also, the government announced that citizens can continue to use old currency for emergency services.
The Finance Ministry also constituted a task force under the leadership of its deputy secretary to speed up the process of recalibrating ATMs. Arundhati Bhattacharya, the chairperson of State Bank of India said, that it will take time for the ATMs to get fully operational. “Since the size of notes have changed. We have to accordingly recalibrate every single ATM. This will take time and we are hopeful that the situation will be normalized by this month’s end. As of now, we are dispensing lower denomination notes through ATMs”.
However, the ground reality on the functioning of the ATMs is different. Citizens have complained of non-functioning ATMs in a radius of 5 Kms around them. There are complaints that the bank officials are not concerned about loading the ATMs with cash at least with the smaller denominations for the time-being. Even if an ATM is operational, it has become quite common for it to get empty within minutes as people formed a long queue.
On the other hand, people living in rural India have been the most affected. It has been reported that the Reserve Bank of India has not yet supplied new currency notes to rural banks, due to improper transportation facilities. The government said that it has directed bank correspondents and post offices in villages to take special care in order to avoid inconvenience. It has also assured that the RBI will be sending more cash to rural areas.