The Finance Ministry on Sunday instructed banks across the nation to increase the daily ATM withdrawal limit from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500, days after all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised. The amount of old currency that can be exchanged at banks was raised from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500. The now illegal Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 tender will also be accepted at government hospitals, petrol stations and toll booths till November 24, the Centre said on Monday.
In addition to also increasing the weekly cash withdrawal limit from Rs 20,000 to Rs 24,000, the ministry advised all banks to arrange for mobile banking vans at major hospitals to be available for patients during emergencies.
The announcement came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with senior ministers and finance officials, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh and Information & Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu. The Centre has also reportedly started issuing the new Rs 500 notes. Last week, banks had begun distributing Rs 2,000 notes. ATMs are not calibrated to issue these notes yet.
Hours before the meeting, the prime minister had, in a speech, affirmed his support for the decision to demonetise the high-value currency notes. Modi had reiterated that the move was aimed at those holding unaccounted cash and black money, and said that with this decision, he had taken on people who were likely to threaten his life. He had urged the nation to bear the inconvenience for another 50 days.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is facing flak from several Opposition parties for the demonetisation of the notes. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Modi had warned his aides before making the announcement, so that they could deposit their unaccounted money. The Income Tax Department has asked banks to keep them informed of deposits of Rs 2.5 lakh and above, and has said previously unaccounted money will be taxed up to 200%.