The sudden demonetisation move by the NDA government faced mixed reactions from the public on Friday as banks failed to open ATMs to dispense cash. People queued up in front of ATMs from early morning only to be told by the bank officials that the machines were not working.
Ramesh Kumar who came to the Noida Sector 50 branch of the ICICI bank said that he was sure that the ATMs will be opened by Friday morning as the Prime Minister had declared on Tuesday. But he only met with frustration. “I came to collect cash from the ATM at 7 in the morning. But at 9 am I was told that dispensing money from the ATM will not be possible today,” he said.
Many of the people who visited banks were surprised to see "out of order" bills outside ATM booths.
“I thought that ATMs will be opened today (Friday). I do not have (any) money. I have to go to work. I do not know what to do," said Sahil Hussain, a customer.
Though ATMs were not working, most of the banks dispensed cash from their counters. Long queues were seen throughout the day in front of banks with people trying to withdraw money from the counters.
Raju Singh a shopkeeper near a branch of ICICI bank said, "I opened my shop at 7.30 am and saw a long queue outside the bank. I do not know from when they were standing.”
Pramod Chauhan who was waiting to collect cash from the bank said, “The bank is allowing only five or six people in at a time to collect cash or exchange money. So, it is taking too much time for the queue to end."
Chauhan added that the inability of banks to open ATMs only added to the problem. "If ATMs were open than the queues would not have been so long," he said, adding that he had been in the queue for more than five hours.
However, some like Sanjay Srivastava, a sales executive have been trying to collect cash since Thursday but had no luck even on Friday. “Yesterday I went to a bank to collect cash. My token number was 71. But the bank ran out of cash before my number was called. Today I am here in an another bank,” he said.
There are also some banks which did not dispense money but only accepted deposits.
The problems faced by the common man has prompted mixed reaction over the demonetisation move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, some like small trader Sanjay Agarwal expressed his gratitude to the prime minister for his measure to curb black money. “Whatever is done is done for our welfare. We need to bear it with the nation. For it will make our economy flourish,” he said.
But another small trader who did not wish to be named said that the demonetisation move is going to do no good to the health of the economy. “Black money cannot be curbed only by changing the currency. That we can see from the galloping gold prices," he said.
He also added that the new currency note of Rs 2000 denomination will make black money hoarding easier. "It will bring in troubles for the common man due to the difficulties in exchanging it with notes of smaller denomination," he said.
The trader also criticised the banking industry's inability to deal with the change in the currency policy. "Some political leaders in the opposition are alleging that the country has faced an economic emergency like situation because of the new currency. We know that it is not true. But what we know is that our banking industry lacks the resilience needed to face one given its inability to operate the ATMs even after 48 hours," he said.