Citizens, political leaders say situation reminds them of demonetisation days


Opposition leaders on Tuesday criticised the government for a reported cash crunch in ATMs across the country, and asked why there was no money even more than a year after demonetisation.

However, Congress President Rahul Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre. “Modiji has destroyed the banking system,” said Rahul Gandhi. “Nirav Modi fled with Rs 30,000 and the prime minister did not utter a word. We were forced to stand in queues as he [Modi] snatched Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from our pockets and put them in Nirav Modi’s pocket.”

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien called it “a financial emergency”. He pointed out that the prime minister, while announcing demonetisation in 2016, promised “everything will be fine in 50 days, but it has now been more than 1.5 years, and there is still a cash crunch”.

TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too said that she was reminded of the “demonetisation days”.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury had also compared the lack of money at ATMs to the situation immediately following demonetisation in November 2016.

The Department of Economic Affairs said the government was taking all steps to ensure ATMs have cash and that it was working on fixing defunct ATMs. “We print about 500 crore Rs 500 notes a day,” SC Garg, the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, told ANI. “We have taken steps to raise this production by five times, and in the next few days, we will have supply of about 2500 crore of Rs 500 notes a day.”

Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the cash crunch was “temporary” and the result of “sudden and unusual increase” in withdrawals in some parts of the country. “We have reviewed the currency situation in the country. Overall, there is more than adequate currency in circulation,” he said.

Meanwhile, State Bank of India chairperson Rajnish Kumar said the problem was mainly noticed in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and parts of North Bihar. “We will increase the circulation of Rs 500 notes in five to seven days,” he said, according to NDTV. Kumar added that it would be wrong to call it a currency shortage. “One reason could be that the procurement season has come and the payment to farmers has gone up.”

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