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Bank weekend closure, Rs 1k ban, empties ATMs

Lucknow: A day after Centre banned exchange of old currency and use of the old Rs 1,000 note anywhere, all banks closed for two days on account of fourth Saturday and Sunday, adding to problems of the common man. Even most ATMs, especially those operated by the banks (on-site booths) remained closed the entire day, creating huge shortage of cash over the weekend. People are struggling to withdraw new currency to manage their daily expenses, while those left with the old Rs 1,000 notes are unable to use them even for fuel or to deposit taxes. Shyam Kishore, who wanted to withdraw cash from a Vikasnagar ATM said, “How can they close banks within two days of banning Rs 1,000 notes? They have even closed ATMs which were already dispensing hardly any cash. I have to leave for Barabanki urgently but I don’t have even a single rupee for refill.” Those who had marriage and reception functions are worst hit by the sudden closure of banks and ATMs. A resident of Alambagh K C Pandey said his son’s wedding was scheduled on November 26 and he hadn’t deposited Rs 1,000 notes so that he could use it for fuel for cars and taxis booked for the wedding procession. “But now I can’t use those Rs 1,000 notes and even ATMs are closed. Where do I now get money from as even the banks are closed. I have no option but to borrow from my guests and relatives.”Manoj Singh’s reception for Saturday has also gone for a toss as ATMs are either closed or had run out of cash by noon. An upset Singh rued, “There are many last-minute expenses before the ceremony like flower arrangement, sweets, fruits, pooja material, etc. If the banks had to close during the ongoing crisis, they could have at least provided enough cash to ATMs to operate over the weekend. I need money desperately but I cannot find a single ATM working in nearby areas.” A government bank manager said cash for loading inside ATM is given on the same day to outsourced agency. But since banks are closed for the weekend, the ATMs could not be provided with cash. He said, “This problem never occurred before as there was never such a footfall earlier as people had enough cash. With daily withdrawal limit being restricted and banks closing for two days, people are bound to suffer.” Another bank said that more than 40% ATMs are operated by the banks themselves, so since they are closed ATMs could not be loaded. Those which were outsourced ran dry soon as their storage capacity has reduced from Rs 18-20 lakh before to now just Rs 5-6 lakh because of denominations only available in Rs 100 and a few currencies of Rs 2000.

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