Banks and ATMs are having heavy rush today once again as they are opening for public dealings after a holiday on Monday.
People started making beeline outside ATMs and banks in different parts of the country since early morning today to withdraw valid currency notes from vending machines and exchange demonetised bills.
While banks remained closed yesterday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti in many parts of the country, cash-starved customers again were disappointed today with most of the ATMs running out of the cash.
Even at some ATMs which had cash were facing server issues, making people wait in the queue frustrated.
Many households are running out of even piggybank money saved by their children for meeting essential daily provisions.
Banks' infrastructure is unable to handle the huge rush resulting in long serpentine queue where average waiting time is 4 hours, especially for exchange.
ATMs will still take two more weeks before they start dispensing new high-value Rs 500 and 2000 notes. Currently, they are dispensing Rs 100 notes which make them go dry in few hours.
With public anger rising across the country over limited cash availability, the government eased key restrictions, including raising daily withdrawal limit from bank counters and ATMs as well as hiking the amount of old and now defunct currency notes that can be exchanged.
The limit of old and now defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that can be exchanged for freshly minted Rs 2,000 and new Rs 500 notes was increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per day. The weekly limit of Rs 20,000 for withdrawal from bank counters has been increased to Rs 24,000. The maximum limit of Rs 10,000 per day on such withdrawals has been removed.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday said that it has set up a task force under the chairmanship of RBI Deputy Governor SS Mundra to ensure that ATMs across the country are ready to dispense higher denomination notes (Rs 500 and Rs 2000) in the shortest time.
“The number of ATMs which will be recalibrated and which can dispense Rs 2,000 notes will be stepped up...To make this whole process faster, to expedite this whole process, a task force was decided to be set up under the chairmanship of Deputy Governor," Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said.
The team has been mandated with working closely with banks and various agencies involved in disbursement of cash and recalibration of hardware and software of the ATM network, he said.
"The task force would ensure that ATM network is activated in the quickest time," he said, adding that it will have its first meeting soon (possible on Tuesday).
There are about 2 lakh ATMs in the country and it has become necessary to recalibrate all cash handling machines to dispense the new design high security notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination.