Some people had brought chairs along with them so that they could sit outside banks until their turn arrives for exchanging money.
The Modi government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination currency notes has adversely affected Mumbaikars as they had to stand in queue for exchanging their old notes. People have been forming queues outside banks as early as 7 am to deposit or exchange money. Many people had taken a day’s leave to get their work done. Citizens carried tiffin boxes and water bottles along with them so that they can have some food while staying in the queue. Senior citizens are the worst affected as it becomes difficult for them to stand in queue for long hours hence many of them were offered chairs to sit. Some people had brought chairs along with them so that they could sit until their turn arrives for exchanging money. Even tea vendors were doing brisk business on account of the currency exchange drive as they were selling tea to people standing outside the banks. Some people had brought two to three bottles of water and offered it to others standing in queue.
Amar Saxena a Borivali resident said, “I have been visiting banks for three days for exchanging my money. Since banks are issuing only 50 tokens a day I am finding it difficult to get my work done. I don’t have enough cash to support me during this tough time. Atleast, the government could have given some time to citizens for disposing their old currencies.”
Chaos was witnessed outside banks as some people had to return home as they didn’t bring photo copies of their identity proofs. Even banks have stopped the process of taking photocopies of documents until the operation gets normalised. Many people were seen demanding tokens from watchmen posted outside the office but very few tokens were issued. Some others approached bank officials to inquire about the procedure of exchanging money.
Arun Shah a Dahisar resident said, “It’s been a long time since I had visited my bank for carrying out transaction as many operations are conducted online by me. However this time, I had to personally visit my branch to deposit cash. Why did the government announce this decision in such a haste? I had visited many ATMs for withdrawing cash but several of them have been shut down while some others were unable to dispense cash.”
People were arguing with bank officials to speed up the currency exchange process so that they can return home soon. On the other hand, bank officials asked them to remain patient and cooperate during this hour of crisis. Even bank employees are facing a torrid time as they have to exchange huge volume of currencies in a day.
Sameer Wadekar a shopkeeper from Kandivali said, “Since there is shortage of funds in the market very few customers visit my shop which has directly affected my turnover. What is the purpose behind introducing Rs 2,000 note and how will I offer change to my customers? Right now liquidity crunch exists in the market.”
Sudhir Singh a marketing professional from Borivali said, “The common man doesn’t have any black money as he is dependent on his monthly salary. Why didn’t the government take any action against large business houses, traders and politicians who have crores of undisclosed income with them?”
Banks are trying different means to help people. One bank had also installed a mobile ATM van at Worli.
According to Kishor Kadam, senior manager at Dongri branch of Dena Bank, “We will fill up the ATMs once our money supply for exchanging is exhausted for the day so that those waiting will not have to leave without any cash.”