ATM chaos: Who will foot the bill for recalibration, the banks, govt or the common man?

No one is in a critical frame of mind to offer Arvind Kejriwal ammunition to load up against Modi. At the outset, this brouhaha over some Punjab BJP party chief Sanjeev Kamboj WhatsApping a Rs 2,000 new note a couple of days before the surgical strike requires very little investigation.

He says it was a "sharing" of a picture gone viral, days prior to his passing it on. I have tried to track it but haven’t managed to find the original. Surely, Kamboj should be brought into custody and asked who sent it to him and it should be traced right back to the first guy and all them must be questioned for political affiliation. So then we know if key BJP members were forewarned and if old Arvind has a point. We also know who all were warned… if he is telling the truth.

Could this Sanjeev Kamboj be so stupid as to defy a party order if he was in the know? And if he was, why the delay in taking his mobile and starting the investigation?

ATM chaos: Who will foot the bill for recalibration, the banks, govt or the common man?

Representational image. PTI

Enough of that, just tell us who got the ball rolling.

As for Jaitley now telling us that the ATMs have to be recalibrated that is like buying bullets that don’t fit into the chamber of the gun and then saying oops, sorry, guys, hang in there, we’ll buy a new gun.

I am no expert on ATMs, but can they be recalibrated that easily? Which begs the big question: What was the need to change the size of the Rs 2,000 note and make it such a pointless venture? Just changing the colour of the note would have been sufficient. Also, the denomination itself is a sea change — twice the value — so if the note was the same size as the obsolete Rs 1,000, would the refit have become unnecessary?

Did anyone think of that?

Have not been able to track any company that remakes ATMs, but imagine if you will the enormous contract to do it. Every bank cannot hire a specialist (there just that many around, you cannot go to the Yellow Pages and find ‘ATM refitters, at your service whenever you demonetise' or any category close to it), so we have to assume that all the ATMs will have to be carted off to some factory and made over or simply changed for spanking new ones.

A simple low level non-armoured ATM costs about Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 lakhs and need roughly Rs 50,000 a month to maintain and service. The top-of-the-range models can go for five times that price. There are 2,02,000 machines in India and another 40,000 more needed.

Do the maths yourself.

Also, is a new one cheaper than refitting an old one for size which may or may not function? There goes my card.

Manufacturers themselves will tell you they seldom if ever factor in 'demonetisation' upgrade facilities. These are not F16s or Su 30 fighter aircraft, these are machines made to go. The main manufacturers are Tranax, Triton and Hyosung.

Next question. Can they be refitted in India or will they have to be technically recalled and shipped?

If you talk to bankers, they will tell you that ATMs are a nuisance for them. The effort in keeping them stocked, often discovering not enough traffic at specific locations, repairs, maintenance, transportation, security, tampering, theft, the last thing they would like to do is send them back to the manufacturer to be reset and returned.

Which brings us to the big question. Who will foot the bill for redoing these ATMs? The government or the banks?

Or us? In the end the very people who are being saved from the scourge.

The way to hell is paved with good intentions, but however much a supporter you might be of the right thing to do and the call to sacrifice comfort temporarily for the greater good, there are just too many niggles rising that indicate things could have been better planned and that the umbrella of ‘secrecy’ cannot be used to keep away the soak of ineptitude.

Come Sanjeev Kamboj, start unravelling that ball of wool and let’s see where the strand leads.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Nov 13, 2016 13:28:28 IST

Also See