Dry ATMs in Several States Trigger Cash Crunch Fears; It's Temporary, Says Arun Jaitley

Senior bank officials said that the delay in supplying of remittances by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Guwahati caused the note crisis in most of the ATMs.

New Delhi: Complaints have been pouring in from across the country, including New Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, of ATMs running dry or simply not working, leading to fears of cash crunch of the kind seen in the immediate days of demonetisation.

Complaining on Twitter, many said banks had started setting withdrawal limits, but these claims could not be immediately verified.

With residents from several states taking to social media, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the shortage was temporary. “Temporary shortage of currency in some areas is being tackled. There is more than adequate currency in circulation,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley said in a tweet that he has 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 demand) in some areas is being tackled quickly," Jaitley said.

MoS Finance SP Shukla said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a committee to transfer currency to states. “We've cash currency of Rs 1,25,000 crore right now. There is one problem that some states have less currency and others have more. The government has formed state-wise committee and the RBI too has formed a committee to transfer currency from one state to other. It'll be done in three days,” Shukla said.

Speaking to CNBC TV-18, SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar said, “The situation is a little imbalanced in certain pockets of geography. There is sufficient cash in the system. Currency in circulation is at Rs 18.29 lakh crore.”

Officials from the Finance Ministry are said to have held a meeting with the RBI to manage the situation.

In Lucknow, cash crunch was reported in Hazratganj, Gomti Nagar, Indira Nagar, Alambagh and Aliganj areas. A guard at an SBI ATM in Gomti Nagar told News18 that cash was refilled in the machine on Monday night, but the ATM ran out of the currency by morning.

Similar complaints were reported from Varanasi as well.

"Marriage season is coming up and cash is needed. The situation will become more or less like demonetisation if cash crunch is not dealt with soon,” a private bank customer in Lucknow told News18.

The issue had taken political overtones on Monday with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan claiming that Rs 2,000 notes were vanishing from the market.

Alleging a "conspiracy" behind it, Chouhan said his government would take tough action.

"The currency worth Rs 15,00,000 crore was in circulation before demonetisation. After this exercise (demonetisation), the currency in circulation increased to Rs 16,50,000 crore. But notes of Rs 2,000 are missing from the market,” Chouhan had said at a farmers’ convention.

"Where these notes of Rs 2,000 denomination are going, who are keeping them out of circulation? Who are the persons creating shortfall of cash? This is a conspiracy to create problems. The government will act tough on this," he said.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted on Tuesday that BJP was “flush” with cash, while the people suffer.