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18 Months After Demonetization, ATMs Run Dry In More Than 8 States

Who said people were using less cash these days? Oh, sorry, the PM did

The Narendra Modi government had claimed that demonetisation has led to a rise in digital transactions and the use of cash is on the decline. But nearly 18 months after the demonetisation of all ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes, more than eight states have been facing a cash crunch in ATMs for the past two weeks.

Assam, Maharashtra, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have reported severe cash shortages. Parents have said that they are not able to pay admission fees for their children. In Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, people turned violent and vandalized an ATM kiosk in anger, India Today reported.

Junior finance minister Shiv Pratap Shukla had earlier given a time-frame of three days to resolve the problem, NDTV reported. “We have cash currency of Rs. 1,25,000 crore now. Some states have less currency and others have more. The government has formed state-wise committees and the RBI has also formed a committee to transfer currency from one state to other,” Shukla was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Narendra Modi had said last year that even people from poor backgrounds are embracing digital payments, Economic Times reported. He was also firm on his stand on digital economy for India. But on the ground, ATMs are still short on Rs 2000 notes. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan says it’s a conspiracy to malign BJP.

“About 16.5 lakh crore notes were printed and circulated in markets. But where are the Rs 2000 notes going? Who is trying to create a cash crunch? This is a conspiracy to create problems and the state government will take strict action. We are in touch with the Centre also,” he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley admitted that there was a “temporary shortage in some areas” and said it was being “tackled quickly”.

“There has been unusual spurt in currency demand in the country in last three months. In the current month, in the first 13 days itself, the currency supply increased by Rs 45,000 crore. This unusual spurt in demand is seen more in some parts of the country like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, MP and Bihar,” the finance ministry said in a press release.

“The Government of India with the Reserve Bank of India has taken all steps to meet this unusual demand. We had adequate reserves of currency notes, which have been used to meet fully the extraordinary demand generated so far.  We continue to have in stock adequate currency notes of all denominations, including of Rs. 500, 200 and Rs.100 to meet any demand,” the finance ministry assured.

But on the ground people continue to face severe hardship. A person in Varanasi told ANI: “We do not know what or where the problem is but the common man is facing difficulty as the ATM kiosks are not dispensing cash. We have visited 5-6 ATMs since morning. We need to pay for the admission of children and purchase groceries & vegetables.”

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