The economic affairs secretary on Thursday announced more changes to money withdrawal policies following the Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8. Shaktikanta Das said that from Friday, over-the-counter exchanges of old currency notes will be limited to Rs 2,000 from the earlier amount of Rs 4,500.

He also said farmers can take up to Rs 25,000 per week against crop loans, and can withdraw Rs 25,000 from accounts that are credited by cheques or real-time gross settlements. Das announced that the time limit in crop insurance cases has also been increased by 15 days. Besides, measures for farmers, registered traders will be allowed to withdraw Rs 50,000 per week, and central government employees up to Group C can take salary advances of Rs 10,000 in cash.

Families in need of cash because of payments for wedding can also withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh per person, he said. Das added that a task force set up to recalibrate ATMs had met and will ensure that the machines will be issuing new notes soon.

The new guidelines come as banks across the nation struggle to cope with a demand for currency, specifically Rs 100 and new Rs 500 notes, during a massive cash crunch. Thursday saw long queues at the few ATMs that are open across several cities.

The legal angle

Separately, the Centre on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to stay the several proceedings initiated by lower courts against the demonetisation decision, The Hindu reported. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of the apex court that since it was hearing the matter, there was no need for other courts to hear separate litigations regarding the same issue. On Tuesday, the court had refused to stay the Centre’s move to discontinue the high-value currency notes, but it sought an affidavit on steps it has taken to ease the inconvenience it had caused to the public.

The surprise decision to demonetise high-value currency has met with massive criticism from Opposition parties, which have also brought up the matter in Parliament. The Congress has accused the government of introducing “financial anarchy” in the country because of the sudden shortage of cash. However, the Reserve Bank of India has said there is enough cash in the country, while the State Bank of India has said the ATMs will soon recalibrated to issue the new Rs 2,000 currency notes.