New Delhi: Hit hard by an unprecedented cash crunch, many banks are just refusing to let customers withdraw the Rs 24,000 they are entitled to every week as per RBI guidelines.
An IANS correspondent who went from bank to bank both in New Delhi and adjoining Noida found confusion over the issue -- and resentment and anger among disappointed clients.
Post demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India said that an individual will be allowed to take out a maximum of Rs 24,000 every week from his or her account.
But with people mobbing banks and cash supplies not keeping pace with the demand, many banks feel the 24,000 rupee limit is on the higher side - and are making their own arbitrary rules.
The argument of some bank managers is that if they go by the RBI upper limit, they will be able to please only some of their customers -- while the queues outside keep getting longer.
"There is not sufficient cash to meet the demands of all the customers. We distribute tokens to people and we set out the limit for the day depending on the number of customers," a Union Bank of India branch manager told IANS.
A board outside the Axis Bank at Noida Sector 16 reads: "Withdrawal limit is Rs 5,000 today (Thursday)."
Naturally, people queuing up outside the bank were furious.
"I need at least Rs 13,000 to meet all household needs but the bank is allowing me to withdraw only Rs 5,000. I have to pay my children's school fees and buy groceries. I feel so helpless," moaned Mohammad Aminoor, a resident of Mayur Vihar in east Delhi.
Aminoor, in his mid-20s, will have to keep visiting the bank every day. He has no other choice.
An Info-Power employee, Shiv Shankar Misra was equally bitter.
"It is so unfair that bankers are not at all considerate," Misra told IANS. "There is an emergency in my family and I need Rs 10,000 as soon as possible but they have themselves defined the upper limit."
An HDFC Bank branch manager said the bank was requesting customers to take out Rs 10,000 a day because they needed to cater to a large number of people.
Not wishing to be named, the manager told IANS: "If somebody is in very bad need of money, we permit them (to take out 24,000 rupees). Anyway, we are bound to entertain those who come with cheques filled at their home."
The Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of India, two of the largest state-owned banks in the country, are, however, sticking to the RBI norms.
"We haven't set any rules against the RBI. If you have money in your account, you can surely withdraw Rs 24,000 at once," one PNB bank manager told IANS.
An SBI manager said: "Till the time we don't run out of cash, we allow people to withdraw the amount set by the RBI."
Another bank officer said they were getting requests from relatives and friends - who do not want to stand in serpentine queues - to withdraw cash from their accounts outside of the banking hours.
"It's a mess, if you ask me," the officer told IANS. "We are so hard pressed that sometimes we just feel like reporting sick and not coming to work. It's a total mess."