Thiruvananthapuram: There was plenty of frustration as hundreds of thousands crowded banks in Kerala for a second day on Friday to deposit or withdraw money. Many said ATMs quickly ran out of cash.
Long queues were seen in front of many bank branches and post offices to exchange the demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. Similar winding queues were visible at ATM kiosks too.
But many people got a shock after standing in queues for hours as most ATMs ran out of cash within two hours, officials and angry customers said.
A bank official admitted there were problems.
“Since most ATMs are outsourced to private agencies to fill in cash, there have been problems in their operation,” an official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
“In ATMs operated directly by the banks, the new Rs 2,000 notes have not been placed due to lack of software compatibilities,” the official added.
The lack of liquid cash has not only created problems for households all over Kerala but also adversely affected business.
A trader said that practically all businesses, including small establishments, autorickshaws and even bus services, had been hit hard.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetization on Tuesday night, and at midnight both the 500 and 1,000 denomination notes ceased to be legal tender.
All banks and ATMs were closed on Wednesday. The banks opened on Thursday but were mobbed by customers desperate for cash. The scenes were no different on Friday.
“Since Wednesday morning my business has been dropping drastically as neither can I accept the old 500 or 1,000 notes nor do people have the new valid currency,” complained a vegetable vendor here.
“Everyone is at a loss… Who do we blame for this chaos?” he asked.
Prakash, an autorickshaw driver in Kottayam, said all he could earn on Thursday was Rs 200 and “today I don’t think I will get even Rs 100.
“Before a passenger boards my auto, I ask them how they intend to pay me,” he added, pointing to the mass confusion on the streets.
A lady dentist said she had begun to accept cheques from her regular patients.
According to estimates, Kerala has about 6,900 bank branches and 8,000 ATMs.
The Kerala government has extended the last date for remitting electricity and water bills and said that people can pay with the spiked currency.