Economic Secretary Shaktikanta Das on Tuesday said people visiting banks more than once to withdraw money and exchange notes were the reason for long queues, ANI reported. Many individuals were also sending groups of people to banks to convert their black money into legal tender. The government had decided to tackle this issue by using indelible ink marks at cash counters, Das said. The process will start in major cities today, he added.
Indelible ink is used to mark voters to prevent multiple votes being cast by the same person during Assembly and General elections. The ink can last several weeks or even months.
“The reason for long queues at banks and ATMs is that the same people keep coming again and again at different places. We have received reports that many people are trying to convert black money into white and they have organised groups of people and are sending them to exchange money,” Das said.
Das reiterated that there was enough cash for everyone and that the public did not need to hoard currency notes. He also said that the situation was improving each day, and urged the public not to believe social media messages regarding cash crunches and shortage of goods in the market. Das’ announcement comes a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a surprise move to crack down on corruption and black money, announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in India.
Following a reported shortage of Rs 100 notes, State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said the bank’s ATMs will soon start dispensing Rs 20 and Rs 50 notes to assist the public as they seek to exchange notes following their demonetisation by the Centre. Bhattacharya said that ATMs were running out of cash faster than expected because there was only a certain amount of space available for Rs 100 notes and the machines could not hold the new Rs 2,000 note because of their new dimensions, ANI reported on Tuesday.
“We hope and are trying that we can sort this problem by [the] end of November,” she said. “And if the chaos subsides by then, then we will also start dispensing 50 and 20 rupee notes in the coming days.” The manual recalibration of ATMs was also taking time because of the need for technicians to physically replace the money when it ran out, Bhattacharya added.
Movement of goods slows down
The lack of liquidity owing to the discontinuation of the high-value currency notes has also affected truck movement in Uttar Pradesh, with nearly 40% of vehicles in western parts of the state not being able to ply their goods, The Times of India reported. Officials of the Paschimi UP Transport Association said that the continuing crisis was likely to cause a shortage of essential commodities including vegetables, fruits and pulses across the country as over 80% of goods in the country were supplied by trucks. The body’s state general secretary AS Bakshi said truck drivers did not have enough money to meet their expenses.
In the Capital
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is expected to hear a batch of petitions seeking the cancellation of the government’s move to demonetise the currency notes on the grounds that it has infringed on the public’s right to life and trade with others, according to PTI. A bench of the court comprising Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud will hear the petitions, which allege that the move has created chaos for the public. The Centre has already filed caveats seeking that the apex court hear its views while hearing the petitions.
Separately, Opposition leaders met on Monday to discuss their strategy on the issue for the month-long Parliament Session that begins on Wednesday. Several Opposition leaders have criticised the move and the inconvenience it has caused people, though the Centre remains firm that the decision will root out corruption in the long-run. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly asked legislators from the Bharatiya Janata Party to not be defensive about the move.
Modi had asserted that there was no dearth of currency in the country, saying that the real problem lay in where the money really is, referring to the black money market. He had also lambasted Opposition parties for questioning the government’s demonetisation move, and said that black money hoarders were nervous. His remarks come a day after he appealed to the country to bear with the inconvenience of having to exchange the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at banks and post offices.
Late on Sunday, the Centre had pushed the last date for government hospitals, petrol stations and toll booths to accept the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 tenders till November 24. It also raised the ATM withdrawal limit from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500, but only for recalibrated ATMs. In addition to also increasing the weekly cash withdrawal limit from Rs 20,000 to Rs 24,000, the Finance Ministry had advised all banks to arrange for mobile banking vans at major hospitals to be available for patients during emergencies.