Amid reports that a large number of ATMs have run out of cash in several states and jibes from the opposition, union finance minister Arun Jaitley has said there is enough currency in circulation and that a temporary shortage in some places is being tackled quickly, reports said.
“Have reviewed the currency situation in the country. Overall there is more than adequate currency in circulation and also available with the Banks. The temporary shortage caused by ‘sudden and unusual increase’ in some areas is being tackled quickly,” the minister tweeted on Tuesday as the hashtags “ATM” and “cash crunch” trended on Twitter, with people complaining that they have had to come away from ATMs without cash and some of them comparing the situation to what happened after demonetisation in November 2016.
Union minister of state for finance SP Shukla said that there is a “problem that some states have less currency and others have more,” promising that it will be solved in three days with both the government and the Reserve Bank of India working to “transfer currency from one state to other.”
There are reports of ATMs running dry from states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said his state “like many other states, has been affected by a cash crunch. The situation will be resolved as soon as possible.”
The opposition was quick to attack the government, with the Congress conducting a poll on Twitter that asked whether ATMs running out of cash was “just gross mismanagement by Modi government…or…a deliberate move.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “destroyed the banking system”. “Nirav Modi fled with Rs 30,000 crore and the prime minister did not utter a word. We were forced to stand in queues as he snatched Rs 500-1,000 notes from our pockets and put it in Nirav Modi’s pocket,” Gandhi told ANI.
Puneet Sharma, a Lucknow trader compared the situation to that after the government announced demonetisation in November 2016. “Bank ATMs are running dry. We are facing a situation similar to the government had scrapped 500- and 1000 rupee notes that triggered a cash shortage,” he said.
Many ATMs across Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, have no cash including two right next to the RBI office in Gomti Nagar. In the state’s Varanasi, a resident said, “We have visited five-six ATMs since morning. We need to pay for the admission of children and purchase groceries and vegetables.”
Residents in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal said many ATMs have had no cash for 15 days. The state’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chuahan said yesterday at a meeting of farmers that currency notes of Rs 2,000 denomination were “missing from the market.” He alleged a “conspiracy” to create a shortage of cash in the state, where assembly elections will be held later this year, by keeping the highest denomination notes out of circulation.
A senior officer of the State Bank of India in Bhopal, who asked not to be named, told Hindustan Times, “Hoarding of notes is taking place in a large number especially of Rs 2,000 denomination notes. This has resulted in notes of lower denominations in ATMs being taken by people instead in a good number and ATMs running dry. SBI is facing a major problem because payment under many government schemes is made through the bank.”